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A pleasant invasive

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

This is one invasive plant (if you could call it that) that I welcome every year. It has established itself across the south. We call them hurricane lilies, because they come up at the peak of hurricane season. To me they signal the arrival of fall.

Thumbnail by escambiaguy
Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Do you know its botanical name?

Wouldn't it be nice if invasives were all ugly plants?

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

Lycoris radiata

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

which are lovely, if your dog doesn't sit on them just as they are beginning to bloom!

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

They are never intentionally planted anymore, they are mostly seen around old home sites.

Arlington, TX(Zone 7b)

i wouldn't mind being invaded by that :-o)

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

I definetly would not mind being invaded by this one!!

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

dehart, I have heard of these doing well in Texas.

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Today, out of nowhere, 7 of those, same color even, appeared along the walk at my neighbors' driveway. I will have to ask if they planted them, and if so, whether they come back in the same place each year or roam around.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

They pretty much stay in the same place. They will spread but it takes decades.

Peoria, IL

So if they stay in the same place and take decades to spread - then are they really invasive? or are they just a well behaved alien.

DFW area, TX(Zone 7b)

So why are they considered invasive?
Where can I get some? They're beautiful.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

I don't think they are considered to be invasive. I just decided to put them in this forum because they are not native and they will slowly spread if left alone. I think I will divide some of mine in the spring.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

much akin to daffodils up here. The old house sites are always visible in early spring, having a couple of bunches growing where the gardens were. In some places, the sites were bulldozed and then plowed and the bulbs scattered across the field. Not quite up to Wordsworth's host, but a small congregation.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Lycoris radiata is NOT invasive. It cannot spread by seeds because it is *sterile*. It will only multiply in the clump.

It hasn't spread itself "across the south". Every bulb has been hand-planted by a plantlover at some time and 99times out of 100, in their own yard. It's remained where it was planted while the houses have fallen. That's why you see it in a vacant lot--the old home place is long gone.

I wish it would set seed. I really like 'em.

Fear not. Go ahead and plant some if you want them.

Robert. Edited to add this PS: Lycoris radiata var pumila (Dwarf Red Spider Flower might be invasive as it is a fertile diploid and can produce seeds. I'm talking about plain old L. radiata, the infertile triploid.

This message was edited Sep 30, 2006 11:59 PM

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

I didn't mean to imply that it is invasive in a bad way. They do spread on their own by multiplying bulbs, just like "ditch"lilies, lily of the valley, and daffodils. I certainly don't think that are a problem in any way. I started this thread to show that just because a plant is non native and spreads naturally, that doesn't mean that it has to interfere with native species. This is one that slips quietly into the native environment and shows itself only a few weeks out of the year.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

No hard feelings.

I just didn't want people to think it was in any way invasive because it is posted in the "Invasives" forum and to clarify that wherever it is seen, it has been planted or tossed ou with garden debris and so on and not from being in any way "weedy" or a threat.

You never know when a bad rumor might get started.....


Peoria, IL

There are many many plants that are well behaved alien plants that are not invasive. The term invasive is not synonymous with alien or non-native.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Point taken.

It's just it's only means of "invading" is by increasing its clump size and while that is quite prolific in a good site, I don't see that as "invasive". No more than other alien geophytes like tulips, daffodils, etc.

Peoria, IL

Its always a good discussion to clarify the definition of "invasive". I think often times we mis-use the terms interchange-abley and then people get disgusted or confused... At some point, we may want to sticky a terminology and definition list at the top of this forum...???

(Zone 1)

Hello all:

I'm new to to the DG website .... just joined the end of Sept and I'm really enjoying this site!

Escambiaguy: Your photo looked like some sort of spider lily so I did a Google Search for Lycoris Radiata .... Hurricane Lily/Red Spider Lily .... I was curious if it would grow down here in East Central Florida and it does!! I can't wait to get some to plant in my garden. The website I found for them is:
It states that they are easy to grow, will come up year after year, splitting into additional bulbs, so I look forward to trying them. They are really pretty!

Thanks for the ID - I am having so much fun on this website! Pretty soon I won't have a life anymore, I will be so addicted!

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

Welcome plantladylin!

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

Quote: "At some point, we may want to sticky a terminology and definition list at the top of this forum...???"

I think that's a really good idea, joepyeweed. If we aren't using words for the same understood meaning, we're not talking the same language, eh? I have come to understand invasive as being only those that threaten native species in their native ranges, not those that grow readily in a cultivated garden setting.

Seems it would reduce confusion, to have a clear definition to refer to. Or maybe there isn't one that is so clear?

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

The term "invasive" might need some clarification on a sticky. In various posts "invasive" is discussed in relation to specific plants and their ability to spread "energetically". (One that comes to mind is the thread or comments on Eupatorium coelestinum (the so-called perennial Ageratum)).

There is this on the top of the Invasive Plants forum:

"Here's a forum for thoughtful and respectful discussion of invasive plants (whether native or exotic/alien species); their effect on your garden and the environment, and a place to seek help with identifying and eradicating or controlling such plants"

That really opens up the list of plants, alien or native........but doesn't define "invasive". That can be frustrating perhaps, but allows for plenty of discussion. But I wonder if a lot of the discussion isn't just going over the same ground over and over..... that rehashing might be lessened if a clearer definition was posted as a sticky.

I would like to see a sticky posted to clarify the term "invasive". Maybe there are different shades of invasive...."annoying spreader", "likely to wander too far", "weedy", "prolifc reproducer" etc. that might have more concrete this possible?


Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

Well I actually requested that this thread be moved to another forum since it is causing confusion. As of yet it has not been moved so......

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

It's not an issue of a misplaced thread, dear escambiaguy...I think it's something that I'd appreciate defined in a way that was commonly understood, but though that is very possible on/in/with DG, the outside world will take a while to educate on the meaning.

It's one of those language issues - so many words conjure up different meanings, and here it seems there is the "science" definition and the regular person's version, which only concerns (usually) what directly has consequences for the individual in question.

I think it's good to have the discussion, though redundancy among the same conversationalists can be ... dull.

It seems such a sticky would be helpful to direct folks for information who are not yet aware of what invasive means when concerned folks are talking about invasive having to do with the larger picture of the wild world. It's only recently, thanks to learning from folks here and former knowledge that I hadn't yet applied, that I've understood what invasive means to the global picture, not just what's growing in my garden and inconveniences me.

The sticky would be direct and simple. I find myself avoiding plant and seed trading forums now because I sometimes sadly see offerings that have been repeatedly discussed in the invasive forum. The choice is still the individual's, but once informed, ignorance can no longer be blamed for decision/action.

I want to share information politely, and don't want to be jumped on, as I have been, and quite nastily. If I just were to post the sticky link, everyone could simply read, be informed, and make choices as they wish, and I'd be relieved (yes, I guess this is about me) that I'd done what was right (share information) and within my scope, and not chicken out because I didn't want to deal with personal attacks or arguements.

Make sense?

Here's the thread that discusses the definition of invasive-

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks for doing my homework, Equi!

Lots of different meanings to "invasive".

Apologies for not thinking of the Garden Terms page--{slaps forehead and cries D'oh!}


I slap my head and exclaim, "duh" a lot. Appears I'm in good company.

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

I was waiting for you to step in and set us straight, Equilibrium. :-)

Lycoris radiata is not deemed invasive although it has "naturalized".

¡Hola! 4paws! You were waiting for me to step in? Please, don't slap me while uttering the word, "duh" for me now that I stepped in. I do that enough myself already. I so hate pain regardless of whether it is self inflicted or not ;)

I went back and looked through about 20 e-mails attempting to discern if a better defintion of the term invasive had been agreed upon as of yet. I've got an e-mail box loaded with e-mails of experts arguing over the merits of "cleaning" up a few definitions a tad for "clarification" of course and they appear to be still going around in circles. If you read what I've been reading lately, your head would be spinning around at the neck and green pea soup would be spewing forth. I think I've had enough of hair splitters lately so I'm thinking maybe I'll just toddle on back to my e-mail inbox and start deleting all the bickering list serve notifications... and no, I did not jump in... favoring lurk mode. No chance I'm getting in the middle of that. I will share what they finally come up with to lend clarification to the definition but don't hold your breath- at the rate they are all going back and forth, it could be years. Until the current official U.S. definitions from 1999 regarding invasive species are "updated", go with this-
I particularly like this, "a species that does not naturally occur in a specific area and whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic (harm) or environmental harm or harm to human health." It's important to note that human health can be an integral part of the process in determining whether a plant is officially labeled as invasive or not.
Please note the use of the word alien as opposed to exotic. A species that is in indigenous west of the Rockies that is introduced to my area, would be an alien and vice versa. A species that is indigenous west of the Rcokies is technically a native plant but it is alien to the ecsosystems in which I garden. So, invasive species of plants can be native as well as exotic/introduced.

One thing is for sure, the term "naturalized" is almost exclusively reserved for use with exotic/introduced species that have gotten a foothold on our continent. Plants that are naturalizing, should be watched. Think Lily of the Valley, Daffodils, Jonquils, and Tiger/Ditch Lilies. All have naturalized, yet only one is officially identified as invasive which would be Lily of the Valley. All may very well have the potential to become invasive at some point in time.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

The following statement is from a page accessed through a link on :

"Our county data are based primarily on the literature, herbarium specimens, and confirmed observations. Not all populations have been documented, however, and significant gaps in the distribution shown above may not be real. Please use the Distribution Update module to improve the data by adding your new distribution information to PLANTS. Remember that only native and naturalized populations are mapped! "

So by their own statement, any of the reports at are of doubtful accuracy.

Another reason this USDA site is problematical:

On the first page linked, only the genus Lycoris is referred to (though 2 species are linked).

On the county map for Louisiana, the counties are mapped for the genus without mentioning any species.

So, is a sterile triploid bulb is taking the heat for another species' (?) "reported" invasion that threatens (they don't say what) already growing there (which isn't specified beyond a whole county)?

This thread is about Lycoris radiata (as pictured), not one of the several other species and vars. that might spread by seed.

Some are listed here:


Ya, they've got their issues.

Oh! Nice link to the Lycoris! I'd like to try some Lycoris elsiae. That looked attractive to me. I suppose Lycoris is going to be like gladiolas around here where you have to pull them out of the ground and store them for the winter?

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

I'd have to look up each ones' hardiness range.

All I know is that we leave the radiata in the ground here in 7b. It's the only one I grow or have experience with.


We can grow glads here but we have to pull up the bulbs in fall or they are toast. I read the description on the Lycoris elsiae at your link and went on line and picked up a few more images of it and that is a very attractive plant with a height that would be ideal for this one particular area I have around a window well. I really like the look of that plant. Very nice and it has an Asian feel to it. I have a variegated Japanese Maple planted in the vicinity of where I'd like to try this L. elsiae. There's also a small decorative pond in that area. The elsiae might just provide a nice contrast of texture up behind the slate in front of the window well. I have a few Turks Cap Lilies in the area already as well as some Hollyhocks for height. I found bulb baskets on line once. They were evidently designed for people like me in northern reaches who have to pull out certain bulbs to be able to replant them the following year. It was an interesting concept. One that I have never tried but anything that saves time digging around in dirt is of interest to me.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I think what might be being quibbled over here is simply this:

Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

IF the distribution maps are not precise, they are at least accurate. The sites listed have the plant. They admit the plant may have spread further, but it is not documented YET.

I don't think scientists studying the matter disagree on what invasive MEANS; there may yet be some disagreement on exact terminology to explain this to lay persons who don't know lots of scientific and botanical verbiage.

The main point, stated over and over here and elsewhere:

invasive plants cause harm to the existing environment they inhabit, other naturally occurring plants, and sometimes people and their interests.

Weedy plants are inconveniences to gardeners, farmers, etc. but do not change the environment or necessarily harm other plants/people.

I don't think the Lycoris originally mentioned belongs in either category. I agree with E-guy; this thread doesn't really belong in this forum. It has enjoined good debate, and maybe some quality knowledge transfer.

Where can I get me some of that interesting looking L. elsiae?

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

Equil, my grandma had some variety of those plants (from what I read anyway). Imagine me, in my early 30's going to visit my 80 something year old grandma, and I know more than walked in and she asked me if I'd go see the "naked ladies". Huh? Go see if my naked ladies are blooming, she says. it. She told me that Mrs. Malmquist had given them to her as a welcome to the neighborhood back in the 40's. Before my dad sold her house, I dug them up. I had some and took them to TN. But in Dec moving home, I had no clue where they were. But I did put some out at my parents house. Hers have multiplied very nicely. These are pink. If you'd like a bulb or 2, let me know. Supposedly, by moving them, they won't bloom for years. And they didn't when I dug them up and put some at my house up here (not this house) and at my parents. Took them 3 yrs before they bloomed, so imagine my surprise when I hadn't planted them yet down in TN and I had these pink blooms in pots down there. Grandma saying hi. It isn't a problem because all though not native, I do want one of grandma's plants here, at this house.

Thanks terry. Actually, it's the white one I want for the moth garden. See, there was a method to the madness. I don't know how thrilled I will be every fall when I have to dig up the bulbs but anything for my moth babies.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)


I don't know how you could grow Lycoris radiata there. The zone is always no lower than 7, and runs to zone 9.

The reason we leave them in the ground, is that there is no other way to grow them, except as a potted plant. They bloom in late summer and produce the foliage right after that or at the same time (especially if the bulb doesn't bloom.) The foliage is there all through winter. Since they can make it through the winter inground here, there wouldn't be any reason to dig them as with glads (which are generally left in the ground here too.)

If you grew them there as a potted plant over winter, you could put them in the ground without the pot in spring, to take advantage of groing them in the soil and you'd have to lift them and repot again.

This is another reason I have doubts about this one being the culprit on the USDA site you linked earlier. If Lycoris radiata isn't hardy below zone 7 (according to most sources), how can it be a problem in Illinois, which runs from 5a to 6a, with a dab of 4b and 6b or in Ohio which runs mostly 5b and 6a with dabs of 5a and 6b?


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