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Common Name: Atamasco Lily
Zephyranthes atamasca is a Bulb up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
The bulb contains toxic compounds[
]. Horses are said to get the staggers (a cerebrospinal disease) from eating the leaves and bulbs[
Southern N. America - Missouri and Virginia to Florida.
Rich, mixed forests, moist clearings, meadows, moist to wet pastures, coastal plains and piedmonts from sea level to 700 metres[
Requires a position in full sun when grown outdoors in Britain and a well-drained moisture retentive soil[
]. It strongly dislikes excessive wet, especially in the winter[
]. 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 weather[
A very ornamental plant[
], it is hardy to about -5°c and can succeed outdoors in the milder areas of Britain[
]. However, because it is in growth during the winter, it is generally best grown in a cold greenhouse or special bulb frame[
Bulbs should be planted about 10cm deep[
Bulb - cooked[
]. It is used as an emergency food when better foods are in short supply[
]. The bulb is up to 3cm long[
]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
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.