How to See Cahaba Lilies

How to See Cahaba Lilies

Exploring the Cahaba Lilies at Hargrove Shoals

As we stepped off our canoe, Randy handed us a small capillary tube like you would find at the doctor’s office and advised us to take our paddles with us for extra stability. It was slippery and unstable on the shoals, and a couple of us took unexpected swims. Before long, we reached the first couple stands of lilies.

Cahaba Lilies (Hymenocallis coronaria) are a type of spider lily. They present new flowers every morning. This morning’s flowers were white and pure, while the previous day’s were starting to fade. Following Randy’s instructions, we found a day old bloom and inserted the tube into the heart of the flower. We harvested one sweet, succulent taste of the nectar, like a drop of pure honey.

Randy told us that, in the evenings, Cahaba lilies release their fragrance for their nocturnal pollinator, the plebeian sphinx moth. I imagined that drop of nectar as a scent rising from the thousands of lilies on Hargrove Shoals. It felt so real I could almost smell it.

We spent about an hour exploring the Hargrove shoals, photographing lilies, and flying our drones. If we had sturdier shoes, like a good canyoneering boot, we might have ventured farther away from the boats. As it was, we only visited the first couple of stands of the vast flower field.

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