The Amaryllis Flower
Amaryllis (/mrls/) is the only genus in the subtribe Amaryllidinae (tribe Amaryllideae). It is a small genus of flowering bulbs with two species. The better known of the two Amaryllis belladonna is a native of the Western Cape region of South Africa particularly the rocky southwest area between the Olifants River Valley to Knysna. For many years there was confusion among botanists over the generic names Amaryllis and Hippeastrum one result of which is that the common name amaryllis is mainly used for cultivars of the genus Hippeastrum widely sold in the winter months for their ability to bloom indoors.
Amaryllis is a bulbous plant with each bulb being 510 cm (2.03.9 in) in diameter. It has several strap-shaped green leaves 3050 cm (1220 in) long and 23 cm (0.791.18 in) broad arranged in two rows.Each bulb produces one or two leafless stems 3060 cm tall each of which bears a cluster of two to twelve funnel-shaped flowers at their tops. Each flower is 610 cm (2.43.9 in) diameter with six tepals (three outer sepals three inner petals with similar appearance to each other). The usual color is white with crimson veins but pink or purple also occur naturall
The single genus in subtribe Amaryllidinae in the Amaryllideae tribe. The taxonomy of the genus has been controversial. In 1753 Carl Linnaeus created the name Amaryllis belladonna the type species of the genus Amaryllis. At the time both South African and South American plants were placed in the same genus; subsequently they were separated into two different genera. The key question is whether Linnaeus’s type was a South African plant or a South American plant. If the latter Amaryllis would be the correct name for the genus Hippeastrum and a different name would have to be used for the genus discussed here
In areas of its native habitat with mountainous fynbos flowering tends to be suppressed until after bush fires as dense overhead vegetation prevents growth. In more open sandy areas of the Western Cape the plant flowers annually. Plants tend to be very localized in dense concentrations due to the seeds’ large size and heavy weight. Strong winds shake loose the seeds which fall to ground and immediately start to germinate aided by the first winter rains.
The leaves are produced in the autumn or early spring in warm climates depending on the onset of rain and eventually die down by late spring. The bulb is then dormant until late summer. The plant is not frost-tolerant nor does it do well in tropical environments since they require a dry resting period between leaf growth and flower spike production.
One or two leafless stems arise from the bulb in the dry ground in late summer (March in its native habitat and August in USDA zone 7).
The plant has a symbiotic relationship with Carpenter bees. It is also visited by noctuid moths at night. The relative importance of these animals as pollinators has not yet been established; however Carpenter bees are thought to be the main pollinators of amaryllis on the Cape Peninsula. The plant’s main parasite is the lily borer Brithys crini and/or Diaphone eumela.