Lycoris is a genus of about20 species of perennials in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to Eastern Asia, mainly China and Japan.
Most species have flowers with narrow, strap-like petals and long stamens that give them their spidery appearance. The flowers come in many colors and will bring cheer to everyone who sees them!
The genus was named after the Roman actress and mistress of Mark Antony, Lycoris.
The plants are often called Spider Lilies because of their shape.
Lycoris symbolizes death and reincarnation.
Interesting facts about Lycoris:
Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata)
The most popular species in the genus is Lycoris radiata, commonly known as “Red Spider Lily”, “Red Magic Lily” or “Hurricane Lily”.
The flowers appear on their own, unfettered by foliage and it’s always lovely to see these flowers because no leaves are present when the blooms appear.
In Japan, Lycoris radiata is known as “Higanbana“, which roughly means “The flower that blooms during the (fall) equinox”. It blooms around the time of the autumn equinox in late September to early fall all across Japan.
The flower is also referred to as “Manjushage”, which means “The flower in heaven”. It is believed that its bright colors and striking appearance lead souls into the afterlife.
Higanbana is one of the most iconic autumn flowers in Japan and is often seen in temple precincts and cemeteries.
Japan’s largest Higanbana field is located at Kinchakuda, in Hidaka City, Saitama. It is one of the largest parks in Japan with over 5 million of these flowers blooming like fireworks against the soft blue sky.
Surprise Lilies or Naked Ladies
Most of the Lycoris species do not bloom like other plants. Instead, they bloom on flower stalks with no leaves present, hence the common name Surprise Lilies or Naked Ladies.
The flowers appear on leafless stems in late summer, while the leaves die back before the flowers emerge or appear afterwards. The flowers appear from nowhere, since there is no foliage to indicate where the bulb is planted, so don’t be surprised if they magically pop up in the middle of the yard!
Is Lycoris Poisonous?
All species contain the alkaloid poison – lycorine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression and even death.
Benefits and Uses
The bulbs of Lycoris radiata are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The plant is used to treat a variety of illnesses, including ulcers, swellings, stomach and liver problems, rheumatism and epilepsy. It has also been shown to have anticancer properties.
They are extensively cultivated as ornamental plants in Eastern Asia.
The flowers come in shades of red, pink, orange, white and yellow.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
Lycoris grows up to 60 cm (2 ft) in height.
The plant prefers soils that are rich and well-drained, with medium moisture. It is not fussy about the soil pH.