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Botany Photo of the Day
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Nemastylis geminiflora

Nemastylis geminiflora

Apologies for the few entries, everyone--chipping away at this app takes a fair bit of time. Taisha wrote today's entry:

Nemastylis geminiflora (original image) is commonly known as prairie celestial, prairie pleatleaf, or, occasionally, the celestial lily. This lovely photo was taken by frequent BPotD contributor Monceau@Flickr on March 23rd in San Antonio, Texas. Thanks Monceau!

A member of the Iridaceae or iris family, Nemastylis geminiflora is distributed from Tennessee and Mississippi west to Texas and north to Kansas and Missouri. Habitats include both grasslands (including pastures) and open woodlands. This perennial species grows from a bulb that is buried deep beneath the ground. Prairie celestial opens its blue tepals mid-morning. Bees, flies, and other insects only have a few hours to gather nectar and pollinate the flowers, as they wilt by the late afternoon or early evening.

Although Nemastylis geminiflora is occasionally called by the misnomer, the celestial lily, it is not a true lily. A quick way to separate the two groups: Iridaceae have three stamens and an inferior ovary, while the Liliaceae have 6 stamens and a superior ovary.

4 Comments

Gorgeous! I'm actually going looking for this very species at Terre Noir Natural Area about 90 minutes outside of Little Rock this coming weekend. It's a little early for it but maybe I will get lucky!

This is one of my favorite flowers, and it grows on our land in Texas.One of the most unusual things about it is that it is very consistent about when it blooms. I can count on them blooming the first and second week in April no matter what the winter was like, or what the recent weather has been. I think that with the bulbs so far under, they are not much concerned with the surface weather. One small quibble: I think there should be an "l" in one of the common names, They are called Pleatleaf (instead of peatleaf) because the leaves have unusual lengthwise pleats, almost like a child fan-folded a long piece of paper.

Thanks for the correction, Carol. I'll accept blame as the editor.

Celestial indeed (lily or not). What a beauty--the photo gave me a real lift. And that ephemeral beauty gives it an extra special quality--imagine walking through a pasture in mid-morning and encountering these!

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