The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines crag as a steep, rugged rock or cliff. As for lily, well, I think this is visually self-explanatory:
Pretty, isn’t it? And hardy too, just like the first part of its name–enduring like a rock, that is.
Texas Craglily, Echeandia 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!
There are two other Echeandia species in Texas, E. chandleri and E. flavescens, but 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.
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.
Dying back at the first hard freeze, it disappears until late spring–sometimes not returning in full until May or June.
During summer the foliage returns quickly and is attractive and well-behaved.
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.
A glorious autumnal yellow-orange, the sweet little blooms are pollinator magnets.
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.
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.
I have a number of Texas Craglily specimens planted alongside Henry Duelberg Sage, Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ and Gregg’s Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii: it’s a winning combination.
Peeking between some garden art, the graceful foliage holds its own.
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.
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.
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.