One of the highlights of the festival is the keynote presentation by Dr. Larry Davenport. Considered by many to be the foremost authority on the Cahaba Lily; or Shoals Lily as it is called outside of Alabama; or, more technically, Hymenocalis Coronaria. During the presentation Dr. Davenport explains the botany of the plant along with his story of the search to identify pollinators. With a mixture of whit and science, he shows the differences between this lily and other similar lilies, the environment the plant needs to thrive, as well as the cultural significance the plant has achieved over the years.
Dr. Davenport holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Alabama. He is a professor of Biological & Environmental Sciences at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is considered to be an expert on Alabama’s plant life; aquatic plants; wetlands; and rare, threatened and endangered species, including the Cahaba Lily. He has presented the keynote presentation at every Cahaba Lily Festival since it began.