Plant Collector: Z is for habranthus

Habranthus. Not zephyranthes any longer. Apparently.

Habranthus. Not zephyranthes any longer. Apparently.

We have always called this a zephyranthes. It probably came to us as a zephyranthes and in the past it has been referred to as one of that family but it appears it is now an habranthus – H. andersonii from the description. Or rain lilies, to use the common name, for the flowering is triggered by summer rainfall. Lilies are a bit of a stretch because these habranthus belong to the Amaryllidaceae family not the Liliaceae one. Besides, they look more like summer crocus, really.

They gently seed down and are established here amongst the prostrate thyme that edges our driveway, popping up also in the cracks in the concrete. The many flowers spring up very quickly throughout summer and set seed which matures equally quickly. This is usually an indication of weed potential but we have not found them to be invasive over many years. From time to time, I thin out the seedlings and I pull off some of the seed heads as I pass. Foliage follows after flowering and is the thin, grassy persuasion.

Habranthus andersonii is native to Uruguay and Argentina and indeed all the habranthus and zephyranthes seem to originate from that area of Central America, north into Texas and the warm areas of South America. The difference between the classification of the two plants may, it appears, come down to the angle at which they hold their stamens. That is a little esoteric, even for us.

No longer first published in the Waikato Times and I do not need their permission to publish here. Replaced, I have been, by a page that tells you how to grow savory, how to go about hanging wallpaper and to go and buy your swan plants from the garden centre now. It is too late for the last suggestion. You need your swan plants well established and sizeable already if you want to get through the late summer rush of monarch caterpillars.

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3 thoughts on “Plant Collector: Z is for habranthus

  1. Nays

    Gorgeous! I sowed seed of Z. primulina about four years ago and those are flowering for the first time currently – the blooms are prettier and larger than I expected, pictures don’t do them justice. Now I’ve seen them, I’ll let them loose in the garden.

  2. sandra

    So sorry to hear the Waikato Times has dropped you, they obviously didn’t know what they had! Mind you, as they don’t know the difference between Andrew Fagan and David Fagan maybe there’s no hope anyway. Best of luck in the wind down period.

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