Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Lily Turf, LIRIOPE sp.

from the the July 22, 2012 Newsletter issued from the woods of the Loess Hill Region a few miles east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

Around the trunk of a big Black Oak along the driveway a certain mat- or turf-forming herb is flowering now. It's an ornamental good to know because not only does it make an attractive, easy to maintain potted plant, but also in shaded, dry areas it hangs on year after year forming an attractive, dark-green turf about ankle high, and it spreads and spreads where other plants just can't survive. Most of the year you see only grasslike leaves, but nowadays plants are issuing little spikes of tiny white flowers, as shown above.

A close-up of a flower with its perianth (undifferentiated calyx and corolla) of six parts, six stamens curiously curving downward, and a thick, blunt style curving upward, is shown below:

Lily Turf, LIRIOPE sp., flower

This is one of several plants known as Lily Turfs, a member of the genus LIRIOPE, from eastern Asia. "Keying it out" in the online Flora of China I find that it's not the much planted Liriope muscari because that species does not produce stolons, or underground stems that shoot off a mother plant to emerge as a new plant, while our plants vigorously develop them. It's not the other commonly planted Liriope, either, Liriope spicata, because that species has longer anthers than this one's, which are only about 1.3mm long. Our species' leaves are much too wide to be the other possible Liriope species, so I assume that we have some kind of hybrid for which the binomial system just doesn't work.

Another good thing about this lily turf is that the deer don't eat it. Around here that's a major advantage.