Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Swamp-lily - Crinum americanum    L.
Members of Amaryllidaceae:
Members of Crinum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Liliales » Family Amaryllidaceae
DistributionThere is only one known NC collection of what is considered to be a natural occurrence, from a marsh in New Hanover County. This species is commonly cultivated, and thus NC occurrences must be treated at first with skepticism before being accepted as a natural occurrence.

This is a Southern Coastal Plain species, being found northward only to extreme southeastern NC, and south to southern FL and west to TX. There are very few county records for states other than FL; its G5 rank comes from the fact that it ranges well to the south of the US.
AbundanceConsidered of historical occurrence in NC, with the only collection from 1975. As it is very conspicuous when in flower, the fact that there seem to be no other records since then suggests that it is not being overlooked. It is State listed as Special Concern - Historical.
HabitatThis species is mostly found in swamp forests, but the NC record is from a large freshwater marsh. However, marshes are also a suitable habitat within the native range.
PhenologyBlooms from June to October, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a spectacular flower when in bloom, it having one of the state's largest flowers. It has a handful of very long, strap-like basal leaves; each leaf is 2-2.5 feet long but barely 2 inches wide. The flowering stalk grows to about 2 feet high and contains several huge white flowers in an umbel at the top. Each of the 6 tepals is 3-4 inches long but much narrower, recurved, with a long stamen containing a conspicuous reddish filament and a yellowish anther. No other native plant in the state looks like Crinum, though spider-lilies (Hymenocallis spp.) look vaguely like it; these species have a partly united perianth (tepals) that form a cup, beyond which extend the very long and narrow "spider" portions of the tepals. Sadly, to see Crinum in the state, you will have to visit a garden or arboretum.
Taxonomic CommentsThere are several varieties of this species, and the one in the southeastern US is C. americanum var. americanum.

Other Common Name(s)String-lily, Seven Sisters, Florida Swamp-lily
State RankSH
Global RankG5
State Status[SC-H]
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1998 in riverside swamp in Jackson County, MS. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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