Last updated on May 21st, 2023 at 06:56 pm

Lycoris’ (spider lily) scientific name is Lycoris radiata, and it belongs to a group of 13-20 flowering plants of the Amaryllidaceae family. Indigenous to Asia, lycoris plants can be found in China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. It is also found in northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran and was imported to the Americas and can be found in North Carolina in the wild.

Lycoris is also called hurricane lily, resurrection lily, or cluster amaryllis. It is also called a spider lily because of its striking flowers. Thin and delicate petals on tall stamens look like flowers on spider legs. The flowers are 8 to 10 inches in size and bloom in the late summer to fall. 

These are not true lilies and are very similar to Amaryllis plants. Lycoris remains dormant in the summer and blooms in the fall and winter.

What does the Lycoris (Spider Lily) flower symbolize?

In East Asia, the lycoris (spider lily) flower is often associated with death and ghosts, as they are commonly found around graveyards. One reason is that in Ancient Japan, the dead bodies were buried in the ground leading to disturbances from scavenging animals. 

As a result, most people would plant these flowers, poisonous to humans and animals alike, to drive away animals from their graves. This led to the lycoris being called the corpse flower or the flower of the dead. They were also said to remind people of ghosts when these spidery flowers swayed in the breeze, earning it the name of ghost flower.

Due to its ominous appearance and being poisonous, the lycoris flower was also linked to bad luck. Many are scared of touching these flowers or bringing them to their homes as it is considered a sign of impending doom or death.

While it has several negative meanings, some species of these flowers are believed to bring good health and long life to humans. This could be attributed to its use in healing creams and medicines. They were popularly used to treat stomach ailments and abdomen inflammation, particularly in Japan and China.

The flowers are also mentioned in one of the Buddhist texts, the Lotus Sutra, where lycoris is said to grow along the realm of the dead. These bright blooms act as a guide to spirits on their way to reincarnation or enlightenment.

All in all, the lycoris (spider lily) flower symbolic meanings are:

  • death
  • circle of life
  • last goodbyes
  • sad memories
  • happiness
  • light
  • sorrow

Meaning of the Lycoris (Spider Lily) flower colors

White color

Amaryllis, Spider Lily, Flowers, Cluster Amaryllis

The white lycoris (spider lily) flower symbolizes positivity, freshness, and simple life. It is a good variety to grow as it stands for new beginnings. Good beginnings change the tenor of a person’s life.

The white lycoris flower is linked to positive nature, good health, and rebirth because of its ability to withstand and grow incredibly in harsh weather conditions. These flowers have been traditionally used as medicines for cancer treatment and healing properties. 

Yellow color

Flowers, Spider Lily, Cluster Amaryllis, White, Autumn

Stunning and lovely, the yellow lycoris (spider lily) flower is associated with attributes such as happiness, light, wisdom, and cheer. In addition to these qualities, yellow spider lilies represent gratitude and strength and symbolize everlasting friendship.

This shade of the lycoris represents wealth. It symbolizes richness and an increase in possessions. Its gold-like appearance often symbolizes richness, and gifting such flowers is said to bring prosperity and wealth to its recipient. It is also a symbol of courage, love, and wisdom. Certain legends also associate it with the remembrance of someone special in your life, happiness, and to passion.

Pink color

Red Spider Lily, Flowers, Plant, Lycoris Radiata

The pink lycoris (spider lily) flowers are thought to be a symbol of feminine love, beauty, and passion. Similar to the qualities of the color pink, these spider lilies are favored for their elegant beauty and are usually gifted by men to their ladylove as a declaration of their passionate love.

The pink lycoris also symbolizes pride, self-confidence, and conviction. It is also associated with success, enjoyment, and enthusiasm.

Red color

Garden, Flower, Red Spider Lily, Hell Flower

Throughout Asia, the red lycoris (spider lily) flower meaning is associated with goodbyes. According to ancient legends, the red spider lily is set to grow wherever people part ways for the final time. 

In Buddhist philosophy, the red lycoris flower’s meaning is to guide the dead through their journey and the cycle of rebirth. For this reason, this flower is often used in funerals.

Blue color

The blue lycoris (spider lily) does not exist in reality. However, it is present in theory and literature. Blue spider lily’s meaning is truth and calm energy. It is associated with stability in life, inspiration, gratitude, and positivity. 

Certain stories also link it to truth and purity. It can also mean trustworthiness, accuracy, and reliability of work, as evidenced by many Japanese literary works.

Interesting facts about the Lycoris (Spider Lily) flowers

  • Lycoris (spider lily) plants bloom very differently from other plants. The blooms appear on stalks that do not have any leaves. That is where they get the name Naked Ladies/Surprise lilies.
  • Beautiful lycoris flowers are very attractive to butterflies. Deer, moles, and gophers avoid lycoris plants and bulbs.
  • Indigenous to China, the lycoris flower has a rich historical background. People believe that these flowers bloom in Paradise, on the other shores.
  • In Japan, the flower is a symbol to honor cursed lovers. In Kinchakuda Manjushage Park in Hidaka, Japan, there is an area with over 5 million red spider lily bulbs. These grow under trees, and it is a sight to behold when all the flowers bloom.
  • Also, in Japan, these enchanting blossoms are called ‘the flower in heaven’ and are often seen growing around temples and graveyards.
  • All lycoris plants contain poisonous alkaloids. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In extreme cases, ingesting lycoris can cause death.
  • Lycoris radiata is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various illnesses. It treats ulcers, liver and stomach issues, epilepsy, and even rheumatism.
  • The spider lily flowers are called ‘naked lilies’ as they bloom on bare stems without any leaves.
  • In some Buddhist scriptures, the spider lily flower meaning is associated with holiness and is referred to as ‘Manjushage’—a divine flower.
  • Captain William Roberts, an American politician and diplomat was the first to introduce this variety of lily in the United States in 1854. He brought back three bulbs of the red spider lily from Japan. When his niece planted them, she found that they did not bloom for a long time until the first rain.

How to grow Lycoris (Spider Lily) flowers

Lycoris (spider lily) is a beautiful and striking flower that interests any garden. Get this hardy bulb for your garden, or plant it in containers with other flowers for a showy display. It is easy to take care of and low maintenance, a perfect plant for a beginner gardener.

  1. Plant the lycoris in well-draining, rich, and alkaline soil.
  2. Place the plant in the full or partial sun, where it can receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the day.
  3. Amend the soil around these bulbs by adding compost, mulch, and bark to keep the soil healthy. 
  4. Apply high-nitrogen fertilizer as foliage and flowers appear to encourage blooming. 

How to care for Lycoris (Spider Lily) flowers

  1. Do not disturb or water the lycoris during this hibernation period. 
  2. Don’t saturate the soil because the bulbs will rot. 
  3. Stop watering when the foliage dies in the spring.
  4. Protect the bulb with a thick layer of mulch if you live in areas where winter temperatures are cold.
  5. After the plant is done flowering, apply high phosphorus fertilizer to survive cold weather.

Best time to gift Lycoris (Spider Lily) flowers

In keeping with the lycoris (spider lily) flower, it should not be presented to someone on happy occasions. It is regarded as a flower of death, something that brings death with it. Hence, the best time to give someone red spider lilies would be at the funeral of their loved ones. It is extensively used as a flower gift in funerals as the red spider lily flower symbolizes the soul’s journey to the new world after death.


Lycoris (spider lily) flower is one of the few flowers that show its beauty in winter. When all the other flowers in your garden are about to wither and give way to a frosty winter, the spider lily is getting into its element; this flower lies dormant throughout the summer and starts blossoming as winter sets in. 

These bright-colored flowers start blooming from September to October. They last for two weeks after blossoming and turn into a light pinkish shade before withering away.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!