Following dry summers, normal in this part of the world, the rains off hurricanes begin and everyone fells refreshed and rejuvenated. One of the rewards of the rains is the Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiate), also known as Surprise Lily.
Lying dormant during summer, the bulbs send up stalks about two weeks after the first good fall rain. Soon, your breath is taken away by its sudden brilliance. After about a week, the stalk dies back and foliage similar to that of other lilies is produced. The foliage stays green well into the winter. Come summer, the foliage dies back into dormancy and the bulb soaks up the sun’s energy, ready to reward you once more in late summer.
|Such an interesting bloom! Photographed against a white tablecloth, you can see where the plant got its name.|
|A few spider lilies growing in my mother's backyard.|
The History of the Red Spider Lily in the U.S.
In 1854 Commodore William Perry opened the ports to Japan aboard some of the U.S. Navy's first steam powered ships while under orders from President Millard Fillmore. Aboard one ship in the fleet was a certain Captain William Roberts, who had a keen eye for horticultural treasures. While in Japan, Captain Roberts acquired three bulbs of a plant with red spidery type blooms. His niece would later describe the bulbs as being, "in such a dry condition that they did not show signs of life until the War between the States." These three bulbs survived and eventually thrived in their new North Carolina home before spreading across the Southern U.S.
|The way the sun hits the blooms in this and the following two photos gives the bloom a magical look, don't you think?|
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