The water always takes my breath away. Now though, my attention has been averted to the gleaming stars setting atop the water. They only show themselves once a year. Free-flowing river right at the transition point from mountains to the plain. Their fragrance is sweet, but short-lived. They are dependent upon a moth pollinator with at times, great distances between populations. Once was a common site amongst our southeastern rivers has become a rare joy. I am delighted to marvel in their glory.
-Carla Atkinson, Ph.D., biology (University of Alabama)
A little over a month ago Dr. Atkinson and I took our kayaks and made the annual trip to the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama to see the lovely Cahaba Lillies that bloom once a year from mid-May to mid-June. These iconic aquatic flowering plants require a very specialized habitat --swift-flowing water over rocks and lots of sun. They can only be found in the shoals areas or above the fall line in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
These striking spider lilies once flourished in many locations on southeastern rivers, but due to damming of rivers and other human activities they now only appear in a very limited number of places. I am so fortunate to live close to the area they are the most populace, the Cahaba River.