iFind: Zephyranthes, The Rainlilies

Rain lily season is still on but I need to make this journal post before it ends.

About the Rainlilies

The rainlilies are an interesting bunch.

For one, their genus name, Zephyranthes, roughly translates to "Flower of the West Wind". If you know Greek mythology, you'll know that Zephyrus was the God of the West Wind. Zephyrus was the gentlest of the 4 cardinal winds, and considered the harbinger of spring. Zephyr also tends to refer to a soft or gentle breeze.

Another thing is that the taxonomy has shifted quite a lot too. Our white rainlilies used to be in a different genus, Cooperia. Zephyranthes tubispatha, the Rio Grande Copper Lily, used to be in the genus Habranthus. However, recent work has combined most of the genuses into Zephyranthes. Though one thing that drives me nuts is the fact that they switched the species name for our two common white rainlilies:

WARNING: Incoming pedantic rant

They changed the one with drummondii to not
Why. You decide that this rainlily is named after Thomas Drummond. No, in honor of Thomas Drummond. And then decide, wait no the other one is now named after Drummond. WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST KEEP THE SPECIES NAME? It's just a confusing thing for everyone involved. Go though an old book and see Cooperia drummondii and go "Oh yeah that's probably Zephyranthes drummondii"
And then which one is the real Drummond's Rainlily?
The new one?
The OG?
OK. Change the genus name. I'm fine with that. Genetic studies and whatnot, relationships between organisms, that's taxonomy.
But pulling the species name out of one... and slapping it to the end of another...
...that is a recipe for pandemonium
Might as well name the other one drummondiana
At least then Drummond will now have two rain lilies named in his honor

Okay let's just move on...

Things to note/take pictures of

You only really need two photos to get a species-IDable rainlily:

  1. A photo in front of the flower, with the inner bits showing
  2. A photo of the side of the flower, with the stem (well actually it's a scape) in decent focus

That's literally it. The leaves might be helpful too, though they aren't always present. You could even get a photo showing both the top area with the stamens/stigma and the scape on the side. Anyhow, here's a good example observation for y'all.

Species Profiles

Zephyranthes drummondii - Drummond's Rainlily
Zephyranthes chlorosolen - Brazos Rain-Lily
Zephyranthes traubii - Traub's Rain-Lily
Zephyranthes candida - White Rain-Lily

Luckily for us, a biologist, Russel Pfau from Tarleton State University, has written a wonderful user-friendly guide on the white Texas rainlilies, so I can just link his guide here. The first two are pretty common around here, and the second two are things you should share in the comments below if you find them. Thanks Russell!

Here's an observation of mine showing a nice comparison between Z. drummondii and Z. chlorosolen:

Posted on September 20, 2022 12:39 AM by arnanthescout arnanthescout


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