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autumn rain-lily, autumn zephyrlily, Peruvian swamp-lily

fairy-lily, rain-lily, zephyr-lily

Habit Herbs, perennial, scapose, from bulbs.

black or brown, tunicate, ovoid or globose, sometimes with long neck.


blade glossy deep green, to 3 mm wide.

sessile, erect or recumbent, with overlapping sheathing bases;

blade linear, rarely exceeding 1 cm wide, smooth.




1-flowered (rarely 2-flowered in Z. drummondii), spathaceous, otherwise ebracteate;

spathe proximally tubular.



perianth white, sometimes pinkish abaxially, subrotate, 3–4.5 cm;

perianth tube green, 0.1–0.4 cm, increasing in diam., less than 1/4 times perianth length, 1/5–1/3 times filament length, ca. 1/10 times spathe length;

tepals not reflexed;

stamens diverging, subequal;

filaments filiform, 1–1.4 cm;

anthers 5–8 mm;

style longer than perianth tube;

stigma capitate, usually among or exserted less than 2 mm beyond anthers;

pedicel (0.4–)1–2.5 cm, usually shorter than spathe.

erect to declinate, actinomorphic;

perianth subrotate to funnelform to salverform, connate basally into tube, 2–16 cm;

tepals subequal;

stamens 6, of 2 different lengths, appearing equal or subequal (anthers in 2 overlapping sets of 3) to unequal (anthers of the sets not overlapping in Z. longifolia);

filaments inserted just above perianth tube, erect, diverging except when shorter than tube, long-filiform to short-subulate, those inserted on distal tepals usually 1+ mm longer than those inserted on proximal ones;

anthers submedially dorsifixed, usually parallel with floral axis, linear-oblong;

ovary inferior;

style filiform;

stigma capitate or 3-fid with lobes linear;

pedicel sometimes absent, hollow.


(1.8–)2–4 cm.


capsular, thin-walled, 3-locular, subglobose or ± oblate.


numerous, black, flat, D- or wedge-shaped, lustrous.


= 6.


= 38.

Zephyranthes candida


Phenology Flowering summer–mid fall (Jun–Nov).
Habitat Sandy humus soil, coastal plains
Elevation 0-200 m (0-700 ft)
from FNA
AL; FL; GA; LA; MS; NC; SC; TX; South America (Argentina, Peru, Uruguay) [Introduced in North America]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
Mexico; Central America; South America; se and sc United States; West Indies
[BONAP county map]

W. Herbert (1837) suggested that Zephyranthes candida might belong in a segregate genus, and within ten years Rafinesque and M. Roemer each separated it from Zephyranthes. Its leaves are about twice as thick as those of other species in the genus, and they persist through winter frosts and snow, a rare, if not unique, characteristic in Zephyranthes. The stigmatic lobes are not globose, as in Z. chlorosolen, but are somewhat erect and might be described as very abbreviated linear lobes; a careful study of fresh stigmas of “capitate” species is in order. Also, the chromosome complement of Z. candida appears to be anomalous within Zephyranthes. The species has been maintained in Zephyranthes for more than a century, but were Herbert, Rafinesque, and Roemer correct after all?

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Species ca. 70 (16 in the flora).

In Zephyranthes, the degree of fusion of the perianth into a tube is reflected in flower form, filament length, staminal position, and the opening of the bud. Flowers with much-abbreviated perianth tubes are subrotate; with increasing degrees of perianth fusion, flower form shifts from subrotate to funnelform to salverform. The more the perianth is fused, the shorter the filaments in relative length. The longer the perianth tube, the less the stamens diverge, to the point of fasciculation. The timing of the opening of the bud and the expansion of the flower runs across this morphological spectrum from early morning (shortest tubes) through the day to the evening (longest tubes).

The phylogeny of Zephyranthes is not well understood. The species with long perianth tubes and fasciculate stamens are sometimes segregated in the genus Cooperia. While there is considerable diversity within Zephyranthes, splitting the genus into two genera by the degree of fusion of the perianth tube does not fit well with the continuity of the morphological spectrum and with the apparent hybrid origins of species in Texas and Mexico. By and large, species with linear stigmatic lobes bloom mid winter–spring–summer, while those with capitate stigmas bloom summer–fall. Many species with linear stigmatic lobes have leaves over 5 mm wide, but such wide leaves are not known in species with capitate stigmas. Whether there is particular generic significance in differences in stigmatic lobes (linear or capitate) or in filaments (filiform or subulate, and apically acute or blunt) remains to be discovered.

The perianth tube as a portion of the perianth, the relative lengths of the filaments and perianth tube, the type of stigma, the spatial relationships of the stamens, and the position of the stigma relative to the anthers are critical characteristics in the separation of species of Zephyranthes. These characteristics, especially the capitate stigma, can be very difficult to determine in herbarium specimens, but reasonable determinations can usually be achieved with strong backlighting and practice. For consistency, almost all measurements given herein are from herbarium specimens. The width of the leaf shrinks in pressing and drying; generally the maximum width of a fresh leaf could be about one and one half that reported here.

It has been thought that pedicels are consistently either present or absent in species of Zephyranthes. This is belied by the occurrence of both pedicellate and sessile flowers within each of the three species (Z. atamasca, Z. treatiae, and Z. simpsonii) native to the southeastern United States.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Stigma capitate.
→ 2
1. Stigma 3-fid.
→ 9
2. Perianth white, sometimes tinged pink.
→ 3
2. Perianth yellow.
→ 5
3. Perianth tube shorter than spathe, shorter than filaments.
Z. candida
3. Perianth tube longer than spathe, longer than filaments.
→ 4
4. Stigma exserted 2 mm or more beyond anthers.
Z. traubii
4. Stigma among or very near anthers.
Z. chlorosolen
5. Perianth tube shorter than filaments.
→ 6
5. Perianth tube longer than filaments.
→ 7
6. Stamens in 2 distinctly subequal sets.
Z. citrina
6. Stamens appearing equal.
Z. pulchella
7. Perianth tube longer than spathe, more than 7 times as long as filaments.
Z. jonesii
7. Perianth tube usually shorter than spathe, less than 6 times as long as filaments.
→ 8
8. Perianth tube ca. 2 times as long as filaments.
Z. refugiensis
8. Perianth tube ca. 3–5 times as long as filaments.
Z. smallii
9. Perianth yellow.
Z. longifolia
9. Perianth white or pink.
→ 10
10. Stigma included within perianth tube.
Z. drummondii
10. Stigma exserted beyond perianth tube.
→ 11
11. Anthers 13–22 mm.
Z. grandiflora
11. Anthers 8 mm or shorter.
→ 12
12. Perianth tube 0.4 cm or shorter.
→ 13
12. Perianth tube 0.8 cm or longer.
→ 14
13. Perianth rose pink; distal tepals not erect; stamens in 2 slightly subequal sets.
Z. rosea
13. Perianth white, sometimes flushed pink abaxially; distal tepals erect; stamens in 2 distinctly subequal sets.
Z. insularum
14. Stigma very near, among, or below anthers; perianth tube 1/3 or more as long as perianth.
Z. simpsonii
14. Stigma exserted more than 2 mm beyond anthers; perianth tube 1/3 or less as long as perianth.
→ 15
15. Perianth tube less than 1/4 as long as perianth, ca. 1/2 as long as filaments.
Z. atamasca
15. Perianth tube 1/4 or more as long as perianth, ± equaling filaments.
Z. treatiae
Source FNA vol. 26, p. 302. FNA vol. 26, p. 296. Authors: Raymond O. Flagg, Gerald L. Smith, Walter S. Flory†.
Parent taxa Liliaceae > Zephyranthes Liliaceae
Sibling taxa
Z. atamasca, Z. chlorosolen, Z. citrina, Z. drummondii, Z. grandiflora, Z. insularum, Z. jonesii, Z. longifolia, Z. pulchella, Z. refugiensis, Z. rosea, Z. simpsonii, Z. smallii, Z. traubii, Z. treatiae
Subordinate taxa
Z. atamasca, Z. candida, Z. chlorosolen, Z. citrina, Z. drummondii, Z. grandiflora, Z. insularum, Z. jonesii, Z. longifolia, Z. pulchella, Z. refugiensis, Z. rosea, Z. simpsonii, Z. smallii, Z. traubii, Z. treatiae
Synonyms Amaryllis candida, Argyropsis candida, Atamosco candida, Plectronema candida Atamosco, Cooperia
Name authority (Lindley) Herbert: Bot. Mag. 53: plate 2607. (1826) Herbert: Appendix, 36. (1821)
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