The Lily and the Crag

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines crag as a steep, rugged rock or cliff.  As for lily, well, I think this is visually self-explanatory:

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Pretty, isn’t it?   And hardy too, just like the first part of its name–enduring like a rock, that is.

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Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis,  blooms beautifully in my gardens from September into November, sometimes well into December.

Tough-n-lovely, this excellent Texas member of the Liliaceae family is sorely underutilized by gardeners from Central Texas southward to the Valley.  Here in Austin, I’ve only seen it sold at one nursery, Barton Springs Nursery (BSN).  BSN labels this plant as “Copper Spiders” but as I researched this plant, I’ve never seen that term used anywhere else.  A long-time BSN employee recently shared with me the story that BSN originally purchased “Copper Spiders” from Yucca Do Nursery and that’s the name the online nursery dubbed it. A quick look at the Yucca Do’s website led me to the the Echeandia texensis page and it’s confirmed that “Copper Spiders” is definitively identified as E. texensis.

No matter what the folks in the nursery trade call it, this gardener calls it fabulous!

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There are two other Echeandia species in Texas, E. chandleri and E. flavescensbut I’ve been fairly sure for several years now that what I’ve purchased at BSN and have been happily enjoying in my gardens is  E. texensis.  All three Echeandia are commonly called “Texas Craglily”  or “Craglily”;  the E. flavescens is also called Torrey’s Craglily, and E. chandleri is known by the poetic Lila de los llanos.

When I first saw the Texas Craglily at BSN  (four? five?) years ago on a hot July afternoon (yeah, I garden in the summer), I remember thinking that I’d seen a photo of it in the seminal Texas gardening book, Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region,  by Sally and Andy Wasowski, which was my gardening guide and muse for many years. In fact, the Wasowski’s wrote about the E. chandleri, (page 177!).  but the bloom and foliage are very similar to the E. texensis.  

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I’m no botanist, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s been some hybridization in nature and cultivation through the nursery trade.  But whatever this plant is, I’m glad to make room for it in my gardens–and you should too if you live in Central and South Texas.

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Dying back at the first hard freeze, it disappears until late spring–sometimes not returning in full until May or June.

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During summer the foliage returns quickly and is attractive and well-behaved.

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It’s always a bonus in the garden to host plants with elegant grassy structure, especially when it’s lush and easy-care.  In my heavy soil, the foliage only grows to about a foot in height and width. Sometime in late August or early September, the stalks begin shooting upwards and bloom development begins, mostly toward the top of the panicles.

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A glorious autumnal yellow-orange, the sweet little blooms are pollinator magnets.

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Most of my Texas Craglily plants grow in part-sun, but it’s a perennial that likes lots of bright sunshine. Some of mine leeeaaan over to catch the rays.

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Others are tall and stand at full floral attention.  The more “balloon” look to the petals indicates early morning before they’ve stretched and opened.  Or maybe they just need their morning coffee.

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I have a number of Texas Craglily specimens planted alongside Henry Duelberg SageSalvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ and Gregg’s Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii:  it’s a winning combination.

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Peeking between some garden art, the graceful foliage holds its own.

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I see bees and butterflies feeding at the blooms throughout Texas Craglily’s bloom period, though funnily enough, I don’t have a single photo to prove that.  Additionally, none of my Craglily plants have ever produced seedlings–that could happen, but it hasn’t thus far.

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So I’m off to BSN to purchase just one more because I’ve figured out another spot where one is absolutely REQUIRED and will be perfectly situated.  And just in case there’s a run on these beauties, I asked a kind employee to hold two for me!  Ha!

I have no information about its attractiveness to deer, but if you live in or near Austin, try this lily in your garden–in full or part sun and either thin or heavy soil. Texas Craglily is hardy enough to handle the cracks, crags, rocks and clay, yet dainty enough to decorate the Texas autumn garden.

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Happy planting!!

Texas Craglily is a native plant and Gail at clay and limestone promotes natives  and wildflowers for the home garden through her Wildflower Wednesday gardening meme. Thanks to Gail for hosting and teaching others about the importance and beauty of wildflowers.

 

22 thoughts on “The Lily and the Crag

  1. Great photos! I looked mine up and I have Echeandia chandleri, which looks very much like yours. This one blooms from May to November. I started mine from seed and it took maybe 2 years for it to bloom. It did bloom in the spring and didn’t make any seeds, but produced a plantlet on the stem. I had several stems of flowers with seeds from the fall blooming. There is a buck with a full rack that ate everything in my front yard, but not the Craglily.

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    • Thanks! That’s really interesting about your Echeandia–from my reading, it makes sense that yours would be E. chandleri. Where did you get the seeds? And that it appears deer resistant? Whoop!! Many a gardener will be pleased with that bit of news. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your Echeandia–such a great set of plants!

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  2. First up, thank you sincerely for helping this beautiful native plant get the respect it deserves. I’m a convert. I spotted crag lilies (or “copper spiders”) on the sale table at BSN recently and got five more at bargain prices. What a deal!

    I’m seeing conflicting reports about deer and crag lily munching. Perhaps it does not appeal widely but deer will eat it (as they will everything else) if/when they are hungry enough. I have a few planted out front, closer to the house, in beds which are subject to occasional deer browsing I’m keeping a close eye on them to see how they fare as the deer visits increase with cooler weather.

    The earliest bloom stalks on one set of lilies are producing what look like seed pods. Any suggestions about how to reproduce them successfully from seed?

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    • Well, it’s such a great plant, I’m surprised it’s not more widely sold. But lots of things surprise me these days. 🙂 I wish there was more info about deer-likability for this plant, but as you point out, sometimes they like something in one garden during one season, and not at other times. Best to be flexible and plant behind walls, I suppose.

      My Echeandia have produced attractive seed pods which I left until spring, but I’m not much on the science of seed sowing, When I toss out seeds, they will either germinate, or they won’t. So far, the Texas Craglily haven’t.

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    • The flowers might look more yellow in the photos, but in real life, they are an orangy-yellow. Is that good or bad in your opinion?? 🙂

      I did gets lots of rain from Thursday, forward and about 8 inches the weekend before. Thanks, El Nino!! My home and garden are fine–VERY wet and soggy. I moved a bunch of plants in between the rains, so they’ve received a nice watering.

      There were many folks flooded out of their homes in southern parts of Austin and a nearby town, Bastrop. Those areas received 14-16 inches of rain and the streams/rivers are at flood level. It’ll be a soggy autumn and winter, I guess. Thanks for asking though!

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    • It’s barely sold here, so just wait awhile. I’m sure someone will catch on and sell it as a cultivar soon enough! I do love it though, you’re right about that!

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  3. What a beautiful plant! It makes such a happy companion with the Salvia – a gorgeous combination! I like it all the more for mimicking coffee addicts the world over. No wonder you want to buy another one.

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  4. Quite an unusual lily that I never heard of :0. The flower with the particular fused anther filaments remainds me of Dodecatheon (Shooting star), although they are not yellow. This one looks wonderful in combination with Salvias.

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    • It’s not that commonly sold, even here where it’s native. Go figure. You’re not the first to compare it to Shooting Stars–Jason of Gardeninacity said the same thing! I love it with that blue Salvia. Drool.

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  5. I saw these at BSN earlier this fall and hesitated, not knowing anything about them. So I’m really glad to see your post and hear that they do so well for you. I’ll look for them next fall if they’re all gone already.

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    • Oh, I think you would like this one, Pam. Try it!! The only thing, is that I don’t know about nibbling deer and how the craglily would fare. BSN usually starts selling them in the summer, but of course, it’s hot then….

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