Spider lily meaning – explained

So what is this flower? In English, this flower is known as the red spider lily and in Japan, “Higanbana“, which translates to “flower from the other side or shore“.

Surprisingly, the plant is known to have more than 1,000 different names in Japan, with several of them translating to “poisonous flower,” “corpse flower,” “abandoned child flower,” and “hell flower.” 

So it’s obvious that this particular flower has a negative connotation about it! In this article you will learn:

  • Red spider lily meaning

  • Information about the red spider lily

  • Facts about the red spider lily

  • Whether or not spider lilies bring good fortune

  • Spider lilies meaning in anime

  • When it is appropriate to give a spider lily

So let’s get started and find out all there is to know about red spider lilies and what the meaning behind the flower is: 

Red spider lily meaning snippet image

Table of Contents

Red Spider Lily Info

Blooming Period

The red spider lily is a perennial that flowers from mid-September to early October. The most common color for the spider lily is, well, red! But you can also find them in shades of pink, orange, yellow, blue and white spider lily.

The Red Spider Lily flower is one of the not so common flowers to bloom all throughout the winter. When other plants in your garden are about to die back and give way to those harsh temperatures, the red spider lily will take center stage. The scientific name for this beautiful flower is Lycoris radiata, and it’s a member of the Amaryllidaceae family.

Names given to red spider lily

The flower has been known by a variety of names. It is scientifically known as Lycoris radiata and is found in Nepal, China, and Korea. It was subsequently introduced to North America and Japan later on. It is now grown in the Seychelles and Okinawa Islands, although it is still uncommon there.

The red spider lily flowers have a variety of names due to its several characteristics. It’s referred to as “naked lily” because it shows before the green leaves can establish on the rest of the plant.

It is also known as the “hurricane lily” or “resurrection Lily,” owing to its propensity to bloom after, or in reaction to, substantial rainfall. The flower’s resemblance to a spider’s legs earned it the name “red spider lily.”

Two different species of red spider lily

The red spider lily is divided into two species. The first, Lycoris radiata var radiata, is a sterile variant that cannot reproduce. This is so the plant may focus on creating an attractive flower as much as possible. Lycoris radiata var pumila is a rare variety that can be propagated via seed production.

yellow spider lily

Red spider lily meaning

There are a handful of meanings for the red spider lily so I have listed some of them below:


The Japanese name for the flower, “Higanbana” (彼岸花), literally translates to “flower of the other shore.” This refers to the Buddhist belief that the soul passes through a purgatory-like state after death before reaching nirvana. The red spider lily is said to bloom along the path that souls take to reach nirvana.

Abandoned Child

The red spider lily is also known as the “abandoned child flower” because of a Japanese legend about a young mother who died during childbirth. Her soul transformed into a red spider lily, and she now blooms near the graves of abandoned children.


The Japanese name “Manjushage,” which means “flower of heaven,” is derived from the Manjushagi-no-kami, a female deity who, according to one Buddhist text, causes red flowers to fall from the sky as a sign of an upcoming festive occasion.

Final Goodbyes

Throughout Asia, the red spider lily is known as the “flower of farewell.” It is often given to people who are about to embark on a long journey, as it symbolizes death and the cycle of rebirth. In other words, a final goodbye translates to the death of someone or something.

Facts about the red spider lily

Here are some interesting facts about the red spider lily:

  • The plant is poisonous if ingested: All parts of the plant are poisonous, and if eaten, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. The bulbs contain the most poison, followed by the flowers and leaves. These flowers are used by farmers in Asia to prevent pests such as mice from eating their crops.

  • The plant is native to Asia: The red spider lily is native to China, Japan, and Korea. It was introduced to North America and Europe in the late 1800s.

  • They are good producers: Red Spider Lily plants can produce 6-8 bulbs of flowers. 

  • Group them together: They’re beautiful when grouped together and can grow up to 18 inches in length.

  •  They have a negative connotation: The flowers are associated with death, funerals, and the afterlife.

  • Symbolism: The red spider lily is a well-known flower in Japan. It has many meanings, including those associated with the Japanese language and culture like anime.

red spider lily close up

Are spider lilies bad luck?

Spider lilies are associated with death since they were planted near the graves of people, and some consider it to be linked to bad luck, disaster, the afterlife, and hell. However, this plant is poisonous according to some cultures.

The red spider lily is a beautiful but dangerous flower. It is important to be aware of the plant’s poisonous properties, as well as the cultural meanings associated with it, before adding it to your garden.

blue spider lily

What do red spider lilies mean in anime?

The red spider lily is often used in anime as a symbol of death or the afterlife. This is because the flower is associated with funerals and graves in Japanese culture.

The red spider lily was highly valued in Japan throughout the old days, owing to its effectiveness in protecting crops and burial sites, as previously stated. As time wore on, however, the flower’s popularity waned and it became closely associated with death, desolation, and the separation of lovers. This is why the blossom appears so frequently in modern anime.

red spider lily in anime

Appropriate times to give a red spider lily

Funerals are probably the most obvious time to give a red spider lily, but they can also be given as a gesture of farewell to someone embarking on a long journey. If we are honest, we don’t recommend gifting the flower to anyone solely because of its poisonous properties.

Final Thoughts

So now you know that the meaning of red lily plants is deeply rooted (pun intended) in Japanese culture and tradition. The flower has a long history of being associated with death, but it is also considered to be a symbol of farewell.

Let’s summarise it below:

  • Higanbana: A soul that passes through a purgatory-like state after death before reaching nirvana. Blooms along the path that souls take.

  • Abandoned Child: A mother who died in childbirth whose soul transformed into a red spider lily and blooms near graves or abandoned children

  • Manjusha: Meaning the flower of heaven derived from Manjushagi-no-kami, a female deity who causes red flowers to fall from the sky to symbolise a festive occasion.

  • Final Goodbyes: given to people who are about to go on along journey. It symbolizes death and the cycle of rebirth.


People Also Ask

Is it okay to touch a red spider lily?

Keep your distance: If you ingest a red spider lily bulb, it can be fatal, and brushing against the stems or petals might result in a rash.

What can spider lilies be used for?

People in Japan place these flowers on graves to guide the dead to the afterlife. This touching gesture is something that is relatively unique to Japanese culture.

Is red spider lily real?

Yes, it is! The scientific name for the red spider lily is Lycoris Radiata.

What does a spider lily look like?

The red spider lily is a member of the Amaryllis family and has long strappy leaves. The flowers grow in clusters and are typically red, but they can also be pink or white.

spider lily white
Share your love
Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

Articles: 344