Common Name
Rain lily, atamasco lily, fairy lily, prairie lily
Botanic Name
Zephyranthes atamasco
Plant Family
Natural grass pastures, prairies, woodlands.
Southeastern United States
Animals Affected
Cattle. Possibly all animals!
Rain lily (Zephyranthes atamasco)
Toxic Principle
No specific toxins have not been identified. Zephyranthes species contain phenanthridine alkaloids including lycorine, galantine, and tazettine. The alkaloids are present in many of the Liliaceae, most notably in the Narcissus group. The bulbs appear to be the most toxic, and in one report, 0.5% of an animals body weight of the bulbs was found to be lethal for cattle.
The genus Zephyranthes consists of some 70 species, indigenous to the warm temperature climates of the southeastern United States and the Americas. Growing from onion light bulbs, covered with a papery tunic, the plant has glossy, light green, linear, basal leaves, and produces a single starry white to pink flower per stem. Some species have dark pink and yellow flowers. The flowers tend to close at night. The genus Cooperia is now considered to be synonymous with Zephyranthes.
Digestive signs of vomiting and diarrhea if the bulbs are eaten.
Integumentary System
Photosensitization involving the white skinned areas of the body. The problem seems to be associated with the consumption of the the dead leaves particularly in the fall after they have been rained upon. This suggests the possibility of a fungal mycotoxin that is a primary photosensitizing agent, as there is no liver disease associated with eating the leaves.
Evidence of the rain lily leaves having been consumed, along with the clinical signs of photosensitivity
Special Notes
Mostly reported as a problem in Texas and surrounding States.