Amaryllis is a genus of two species of flowering bulbs – Amaryllis belladonna and Amaryllis paradisicola. These two species belong to the Amaryllidaceae family and are native to South Africa.
They produce fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers on top of tall stems. These plants are attractive to butterflies, birds and bees and lovely as cut flowers.
The genus name comes from the Greek “amarysso”, which means “to sparkle”.
The name is derived from a poem by Virgil, in which a shepherdess named Amaryllis had unrequited love for a gardener named Alteo. She walked to his door daily for one month and pierced her own heart each day with a golden arrow. The blood from Amaryllis’ heart creates beautiful flowers along the path. The new flower was called – Amaryllis.
Amaryllis symbolizes self-confidence and pride.
Interesting facts about Amaryllis:
Amaryllis or Hippeastrum?
Amaryllis is also the common name for genus Hippeastrum. This genus was separated from genus Amaryllis in the 19th century.
Hybridization of the Amaryllis began centuries ago. The hybrids we commonly call “Amaryllis” are classified in the genus Hippeastrum and they are often, but incorrectly known as Amaryllis.
Differences Between Amaryllis Belladonna and Amaryllis Paradisicola
There are some morphological differences between Amaryllis belladonna and Amaryllis paradisicola, but they are subtle and minor. The most visible ones are that Amaryllis paradisicola has leaves that are broad and tongue-like, with short hairs on both sides of the leaves, while Amaryllis belladonna has narrowly strap-like leaves.
Hysteranthy and the Naked Lady
Amaryllis belladonna is also known as “Belladonna Lily” or “Naked Lady”, because its flowers bloom before the strap-shaped leaves develop.
The phenomenon of flowering before the leaves appear is known as hysteranthy. It is a strange phenomenon present in many geophytes such as Urginea maritima and Scilla autumnalis.
The flower color is usually some shade of pink and sometimes even white.
Amaryllis has stem that can reach 30 - 90 cm (1-3 ft) in height and each flower is 6-11 cm (2-4 inches) in diameter.
Amaryllis grows best in well drained and slightly acidic soil.