Zephyranthes longifolia

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Rain Lily - Zephyranthes longifolia
South of Hillsboro
New Mexico, USA
August 14, 2016

In August 2016, the monsoons had arrived in this area of New Mexico and we had over two inches of rain in that month.  Knowing that, yesterday we walked the mesa south of Hillsboro to see how the flowers might be responding.  We found several Rain Lillies, Zephyranthes longifolia, in the sandy soil at the top of the mesa, see the photos posted here.  Other common English names for this species include Zephyr Lilly and Copper Zephyrlily.  Scientific synonyms for this species include Atamosco longifolia, Zephyranthes aurea, and Habranthus longifolius, which is the preferred term in some sources today.

The range of this species is limited to parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Northern Mexico.  See the BONAP map, right, for its range within the United States.  Light green indicates that the species is native to, and “not rare” within, the indicated county.

This species typically appears after substantial rains and quickly goes through its life cycle, so it can be easy to miss.  These were the first of this species that we have seen here.

There is only one flower per plant, quickly replaced with the seed pod.  When ripe the seed pod will explode, spreading the seeds.

Zephyranthes longifolia was first described in 1880 by William Botting Hemsley, as Atamosco longifolia.  (Note the 30 years which lapsed between the collection date and the description date.)

The specimen sheet shown below is of a plant collected in 1851-52 by Charles (Carlos) Wright, in New Mexico.  This specimen is considered the lectotype for the species (the preeminent specimen).


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© Robert Barnes 2018