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Zephyranthes candida (Lindl.) Herb. 1826
pronounced: zef-fer-AN-theez CAN-did-uh
(Amaryllidaceae — the amaryllis family)
synonym: Amaryllis candida Lindl. 1823
pronounced: am-ah-RILL-uss CAN-did-uh
common names: Rain Lily, Peruvian Swamp Lily
Zephyrus is the Greek god of the west wind; -anthos is the Greek ανθος (anthos), a flower – flower of the west wind; candida is from the Latin candidus, white.
This bulbous perennial is a native of South America, in particular Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brizil. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental, and is found naturalized in many countries, including Queensland.
The leaves are a deep glossy green in colour, and only up to about 3 mm across, giving the plant a grass-like appearance..
As the crocus-like flowers emerge singly on their short slender stems, they look at first like a new leaf coming, but their papery white petals soon appear (pastel pink flowers are occasionally found, or the white petals may be blushed with pink). The plant usually comes into bloom after rain has fallen, and several flushes of flowers can be expected if there are a few periods of rain in late summer and autumn. The flowers are fragrant, up to 5 cm in diameter, at the top of upright stems 10-25 cm tall above the tuft of outward-spreading leaves.
The plants form thick clumps and can survive in quite dry positions, such as at the base of a hedge, but they will also cope with moister conditions. They can also be grown in pots, and are great for rockeries. There is no maintenance required – plant and forget! They look more effective in largish clumps, so it is better not to divide the clumps too often.
If you grow these plants in your garden, watch out for snails and slugs, which can destroy the flowers.
Photographed in Nelly Bay 2007
Page last updated 19th December 2017