Friday Flash: The Moth Chatter Lily

Like last week’s Friday Flash, this is an older piece that I took a new look at. I think I wrote it for an anthology of imaginary plants. It does have connection to Weordan, though the concept has been transposed to "the real world." Try as I might, I couldn’t find a way to wrap a plot around it.

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The Moth Chatter Lily

Liliopsida, Liliates
Liliacea, Mordre zea 

In the light of day, the Moth Chatter Lily appears, in form, similar to other species of lily, with pale pink, sinuous petals that are nearly transparent.  The sepals are noticeably smaller, darker in color and fibrous with a nearly thorn-like quality.

At night, the petals and sepals of the lily glow substantially due to luminescent chloroplasts.  The magnitude of a large bed of Moth Chatter Lilies can approach the brightness of a 60-watt lightbulb.

Originally found in the rocky isles and bluffs of the Greek Islands, the Moth Chatter Lilies have been recorded further south than many species.  Lately, the lilies can still be counted in the wild in remote areas of Greece and Italy.

The Moth Chatter Lily differentiates from most species due to its extensive and specialized rhizome.    The underground horizontal stem often forms bulbs midseason.  This is due primarily to the attraction moths have for the lily.

In the past, the Moth Chatter Lily was seen as a ‘pest’ species.  In addition to their unsettlingly bright quality, Mordre zea has two qualities that make them attractive to moths of every type.  The first quality is their luminescence.  The second is the form of vegetable alcohol that is fermented in the petals and sepals of the lily.  The moths greatly enjoy feeding on the petals and seem to derive a manner of drunkenness from them.  The moths then begin their own stridulations, common in many forms.  The subsequent ‘chatter’ can be very intrusive. 

Lately, the Moth Chatter Lily has come into favor.  While the light and alcohol attract moths that often eat too much of the plant and kill it, many of the moths also intake too much of the substance and in effect overdose on its effect.  If one takes into account population ratios, the lilies often kill off far more moths than the moth kill lilies.  Many farmers are now closely guarding their beds of lilies as they are used as an organic pesticide.

Still, many are wary of the ghostly glow of the lilies and the accompanying chatter of the moths.  Some have postulated that these lilies tricked Greek sailors into inadvertently damaging their ships on rocky shoals when the lily’s lights and the sound of the moths were mistaken for civilization.  Other tie their presence to the ruins of Babylon, siting the plant as part of the hanging gardens; their luminescence and  winged cohabitants part of the reputation of  "unclean birds" and evil spirits in the area. Regardless of superstition, the Moth Chatter Lily is banned by most homeowners associations.

2 thoughts on “Friday Flash: The Moth Chatter Lily

  1. Anonymous

    Love the name of these imaginary plants.

    Booze and bright lights, eh?

    Sounds like a night out in the big city. 🙂

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