Professor urges Helena to protect Cahaba Lily

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Samford University Professor Larry Davenport encouraged Helena city officials Monday night to pass an ordinance protecting the Cahaba Lilies located on Buck Creek.

Davenport, a botanist in Samford’s biology department and a renowned authority on the lilies, warned that the plants may be in danger of disappearing locally if steps are not taken.

The Cahaba Lilies grow along the shoals of the Cahaba River and many of its tributaries, including Buck Creek.

The perennial plant blooms in May. It is the &uot;poster child&uot; plant for Alabama, Davenport said.

The population on Buck Creek is about 30 feet long by 10 feet across and &uot;healthy,&uot; he noted.

Three major factors, Davenport said, may lead to the demise of the Cahaba Lilies on Buck Creek: sediment from development, the dams which control the flow of water and &uot;poaching&uot; by sightseers.

He said poaching is the largest threat.

&uot;People dig them up, drag them back home and try to make house plants out of them,&uot; Davenport said. &uot;The fact is they make lousy house plants. They need that rocky shoal to survive.&uot;

Davenport asked the city to consider passing an ordinance making it a crime to pick the plant.

He said West Blocton, which has a Cahaba Lily festival each year, passed a similar law in recent years.

&uot;It doesn’t look like the federal government is going to move on this, so we are encouraging local laws,&uot; he said. &uot;Most people who know this plant, love this plant.&uot;

Davenport said seeing the plants bloom in May is a &uot;spiritual&uot; experience for some people.

&uot;I’ve seen old ladies weep at the sight of them,&uot; he said. &uot;They are absolutely beautiful.&uot;

City officials say the only way to view the local Cahaba Lilies on Buck Creek is by a canoe or a long hike down rocks on private land.

According the Alabama Wildlife Federation, besides the Cahaba River and its tributaries, the Cahaba Lily can also be found in Hatchet and Weogufka Creeks in Alabama and in several other streams in Georgia and South Carolina.

In other action at the Helena City Council meeting the city

4 granted a home occupation license to Dwight Rosse, 1806 Man-O-War Drive, for a janitorial business.

4 Approved a land swap with Hoover for land owned by Riverwoods Properties LLC. Land to the north of the Cahaba River goes to Hoover; land to the south goes to Helena.

4 Approved a cost of living increase for the city’s retirees.

4 Proclaimed August 1-8 Clown Week in Helena at the request of local clown, Linda Wolfe