Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rain, rain lilies, rain

with 24 comments

Rain lilies (Zephyranthes drummondii) took their common name from the fact that they come up a few days after a decent rain. We got that rain on April 25th, and by the 28th I noticed plenty of buds in the area where I photographed lace cactus flowers that day. I returned on the 29th and found almost all the buds had become flowers. I went back again on the 30th to follow their progress. A little light rain had me going back and forth to my car for shelter twice, but then I got to photograph rain-covered rain lilies. The picture above shows a still-fresh flower; the rain lily below was already beginning its decline.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2022 at 4:21 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Lucky you, to have rain accompanying your rain lilies. Our rain fell on the 26th as the system moved through, but that was the end of it for us. I especially enjoyed seeing the droplets continuing on down the stem, as well as clinging to the flower. It must have been — at last! — a relatively windless morning.


    May 2, 2022 at 8:23 AM

    • Over the two decades I’ve been portraying rain lilies I don’t recall a previous time when raindrops adorned them. Okay, memory’s fallible, so maybe there was such a time. Even if there was, it didn’t offer the opportunities that this latest encounter did. I kept working while intermittent sun and something of a breeze—less than throughout the preceding weeks—gradually made the drops fewer and smaller, till at the end I was dealing with mostly dry flowers. The weather forecast here last night indicated substantial wind for the week ahead.

      Yesterday I followed your lead and changed plans: instead of going back to the same place for the fourth day in a row to continue documenting the progression of rain lily life, I went to a neighborhood park a couple of miles away that someone posted good rain lily colony pictures of on Facebook. I figured the those flowers and the ones I’d been working with were “cognates,” i.e. born at the same time, and therefore the development stage would be identical.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2022 at 8:58 AM

  2. To go out in the rain, when other people would be watching TV and drinking beer, is a mark of a passionate photographer. Your reward for ignoring the rain is the fantastic rain lily shot.

    Peter Klopp

    May 2, 2022 at 9:02 AM

    • When I left home the sky was overcast but there was no rain. I’d been at the wildflower site only a few minutes when drops began coming down lightly. For the sake of my camera, I went back inside my car to see if the drizzle would stop. After some minutes it did, so back out I went. After a while we got a little more rain, so back inside the car I went. Finally the rain stopped again, and my third time out proved the charm.

      With “smart” phones, people can and do bring their television shows with them into the outdoors. Apple hasn’t yet figured out how to get beer to flow out of an iPhone, but rumors say the company is working on it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2022 at 9:11 AM

  3. Those are beautiful images, Steve! We were supposed to get some rain, but we only got the wind.

  4. Lovely photos, Steve. There’s a beautiful patch on Great Northern, just west of the street, east of Mopac (the rails, right across from Gullett Elementary. I haven’t been riding my bike much, but that’s a patch that’s been there for years and I always love seeing it.


    May 2, 2022 at 12:19 PM

    • Once or twice I’ve parked at the Northwest Little League field adjacent to that elementary school so I could walk across to the west side of Great Northern Blvd. That strip, from just above Northland Drive all the way up to Foster Lane, provided me with many pictures over the years—at least until the Mopac sound wall got built. The construction destroyed lots of plants, and the wall now blocks off access to much of the land.

      It’s good that you have a nearby patch of rain lilies you’ve been able to rely on. The next time rain lilies come up around town, I’ll try to remember to stop by there. From Facebook I found out that Schroeter Neighborhood Park, a little east of US 183 and south of Duval Rd., also hosted a good crop of rain lilies last week. I went there yesterday morning to document them in their turning-colors-as-they-shrivel phase.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2022 at 2:39 PM

  5. Perfect… Of course, rain lilies always look better in the rain. 🙂

    Eliza Waters

    May 2, 2022 at 3:35 PM

    • Perhaps paradoxically, I’ve seldom seen rain lilies covered with raindrops. All the more reason why I valued Saturday morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2022 at 3:47 PM

  6. Steve, I’m looking to build out my macro kit. Do you use a ring flash?

    Khürt Williams

    May 2, 2022 at 5:56 PM

  7. Such ephemeral beauty.


    May 2, 2022 at 8:26 PM

  8. […] a different place, a different approach, as today’s two pictures show. In each one I got close enough to a rain lily that everything […]

  9. Nice rainy rain lilies. You’d enjoy the ad at the bottom today…Ask Questions, Ask Questions, Ask Questions

    Steve Gingold

    May 4, 2022 at 4:10 AM

    • Until that day the lack of rain had almost always rained on my would-be rainy rain lily picture parade. And yes, I encourage asking questions. I did a lot of that when I taught.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2022 at 8:02 AM

  10. Thank you for sharing this story about the lovely rain lilies… I’d never heard of them. A beautiful contrast between the all white blossom in full bloom, and the delicate green and purple touches on the one that’s fading.

    Birder's Journey

    May 6, 2022 at 7:55 AM

    • Rain lily buds can have a tinge of pink, as can the tips of the tepals on a fully open flower. Then each flower sets about withering fairly quickly, with more and more pink~violet~purple replacing the formerly pristine white. If you skip ahead a couple of posts you’ll see some of that progression.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 6, 2022 at 3:36 PM

  11. Those rain lilies sure are beautiful … wonderful shots Steve


    May 13, 2022 at 3:11 PM

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