Specific Character and Synonyms.
|AMARYLLIS||equestris spatha subbiflora, pedicellis erectis spatha brevioribus, tubo filiformi horizontali, limbo oblique patulo sursum curvo, fauce, pilosa. Linn. fil. Ait. Kew. v. 1. p. 417.|
|AMARYLLIS||dubia Linn. Am. Ac. 8. p. 254|
|LILIUM||americanum puniceo flore Belladonna dictum. Herm. Par. Bat. p. 194. cum fig.|
Mr. Aiton, in his Hortus Kewensis, has inserted this species of Amaryllis, as named and described by the younger Linnaeus; he informs us, that it is a native of the West-Indies, and was introduced by Dr. William Pitcairn, in 1778: as its time of flowering is not mentioned, we may presume, that it had not blossomed in the royal garden when the publication before mentioned first made its appearance; it no doubt has since, as we have seen it in that state in the collections of several Nurserymen, particularly those of Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Colvill.
It flowers towards the end of April.
The flowering stem rises above the foliage, to the height of about a foot or more, produces from one to three flowers, similar to, but not quite so large as those of the Mexican Amaryllis, to wich it is nearly related; it differs however from that plant essentially in this, that the lower part of the flower projects further than the upper, which gives to its mouth that obliquity which Linnaeus [fils] describes.
The spatha is composed of two leaves, which standing up at a certain period of the plant's flowering like ears, give to the whole flower a fancied resemblance of a horse's head; whether Linnaeus derived his name of equestris from this circumstance or not, he does not condescend to inform us.
Mr. Aiton regards it as a greenhouse plant; like those of many of the Ixias, however, the bulbs are of the more tender kind.
It is propagated by offsets, but not very readily.
Comments: Obviously this species reached England long before 1778, despite what was written in Hort. Kew. John Simson painted it in 1729, and Philip Miller described it in 1731. Maria Merian took bulbs of the Surinam form back to Holland, and noted that the same plant was already growing in the garden of Holland. It differs from the Lilionarcissus rubeus indicus of the Hort. Farn. (1625) in the longer tube and less divided stigma.
The various forms of Amaryllis were received from America in quantity, so gardners were not obliged to maintain them.
The name equestris perhaps alludes to the emblem of the Swedish Royal Order of the Polar Star, a cross with a 5-pointed silver star. Linné was a knight (equest) of the order, and his son inherited the title when he died.