Amaryllis kewensis
an ambiguous hybrid


W. Watson

Garden
and
Forest

244: 513
October 26, 1892

  THE BELLADONNA LILY - I have more than once written of this plant as one of the first attractions in the borders at Kew and a few other English gardens in autumn. There are now several hundred spikes of flowers on a south border against the Orchid-house here, where they make a rich glow of rose-red color. I write now to recommend growers of bulbs in America to take up the Belladonna and raise it from seeds. Hitherto we have relied solely on bulb offsets for the multiplication of this plant, consequently we have not improved it at all. That it is capable of considerable improvement by means of seeds and selection is evident from a plant, a seedling, flowering at Kew now. This plant was obtained several years ago as a probable hybrid between the Belladonna and Brunsvigia Josephinae. On flowering, however, it proves that the supposed cross did not take place, the plant being unquestionably a pure Belladonna. But such a Belladonna! The scape is as thick as a man's thumb, a yard high, and it bears an umbel of twelve flowers all open together, half as large again as the ordinary form, and colored a rich rose-red, very nearly crimson. Every one who has seen this plant declares it the finest Belladonna Lily ever seen. We propose to call it Kewense.

Arthington
Worsley

Gardeners'
Chronicle
(London)

29: (1901)

reprinted
Herbertia
1:57-58 (1934)

  Another plant of tantalizing parentage is Amaryllis kewensis. When I first saw this plant at Kew, some dozen years or so back, it was labeled "Amaryllis hybrid, Arbuckle's var." Later on it got down to Amaryllis belladonna Arbuckle.

At one time, as far as I could gather from various sources, it had come to the Royal Gardens as an unflowered supposed hybrid between Brunsvigia josephinae and Amaryllis belladonna. Its supposed parentage did not carry it through the critical examination to which it was subject on flowering. But still, there it was—a live thing that was not Amaryllis belladonna, and yet could claim no ascertained parentage.

And so it got called A. kewensis. And certainly, as a commemorative name, its splendid inflorescence, unmatched among the Amaryllids for fragrance and beauty, entitled it to be associated with the Royal Gardens.

Yet I am of opinion that had this plant been claimed as an ascertained hybrid of Brunsvigia and Amaryllis by some authority, such claims could not have been overlooked: for it shares in many respects the characters of both suggested parents. Among the five kinds of Brunsvigia and Amaryllis in my garden, all bears seeds freely.