Zephyranthes atamasca

Common name: Atamasco Lily Family: Amaryllidaceae
Author: (L.)Herb. Botanical references: 43, 200
Synonyms: Amaryllis atamasca (L.)
Known Hazards: The bulb contains toxic compounds62. Horses are said to get the staggers (a cerebrospinal disease) from eating the leaves and bulbs207.
Range: Southern N. America – Missouri and Virginia to Florida.
Habitat: Damp woods43.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 1 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 0
Other Possible Synonyms: From various places across the web, may not be correct. See below.
Atamosco atamascaB,P Z. atamasca var. atamascaB,P Z. atamascoE,HORTIPLEX,L
Other Common Names: From various places around the Web, may not be correct. See below.
Atamasco Lily P,L, Atamasco-lily B, Rainlily E,
Epithets: From a Dictionary of Botanical Epithets
mas = male, robust;
Other Range Info: From the Ethnobotany Database

Physical Characteristics

Bulb growing to 0.3m by 0.1m . It is hardy to zone 8. It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from April to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. We rate it 1/5 for edibility and 0/5 for medicinal use.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Habitats and Possible Locations

Cultivated Beds, By Walls, By South Wall, By East Wall.

Edible Uses


Bulb – cooked

2, 22, 46, 61. It is used as an emergency food when better foods are in short supply61, 161. The bulb is up to 3cm long235. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

None known

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Requires a position in full sun when grown outdoors in Britain and a well-drained moisture retentive soil1, 42, 200. It strongly dislikes excessive wet, especially in the winter200. Plants require a definite dry resting period in late summer, if they receive water at this time they are excited into growth and can then be killed in cold weather120. A very ornamental plant1, it is hardy to about -5°c and can succeed outdoors in the milder areas of Britain200. However, because it is in growth during the winter, it is generally best grown in a cold greenhouse or special bulb frameK. Bulbs should be planted about 10cm deep200.


Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be left undisturbed in the pot for their first year of growth. Give them an occasional liquid feed in the growing season to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants become dormant in the summer, pot up the small bulbs placing 2 – 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another one or two years in the greenhouse before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer. Division of offsets after the plant dies down in late spring or early summer. Larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions whilst it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in the greenhouse for a year before planting them out.