Transactions of the Horticultural Society. 4: 498-502

LXXIX. On the Production of a Hybrid Amaryllis. In a Letter to the Secretary.
By JAMES ROBERT GOWEN, Esq. F.H.S.
Read August 7, 1821.

DEAR SIR,

1 The flowers were compared with those of Amaryllis Johnsoni, growing at Mr. COLVILL'S garden at Chelsea, and no difference was perceptible. Secr.
2 Note. November 14, 1821. Seven of the bulbs have flowered in the course of the summer and autumn. No marked distinction has been observed between them. The last but one which flowered had a broader and more prolonged central stripe. On the Production of a Hybrid Amaryllis.
3 See note by the Secretary at the, end of this communication.
4 Observations an the Rhododendron hybridum, in the Botanical Register. Vol. iii. page 195.

I HASTEN to comply with your request to be furnished with the history of the splendid Hybrid Amaryllis Regina-vittata, which, by Lord CARNARVON'S desire, I sent to the Horticultural Society a few days ago. It was raised by me in his Lordship's garden in the summer of 1818, from seeds of Amaryllis vittata, which I had carefully impregnated by the pollen of Amaryllis Reginae, As the operation had long been premeditated, the two bulbs were by proper management brought to expand their flowers on or about the same day, and such minute attention was paid to the extirpation of the anthers of the A. vittata, previously to the expansion of the corolla, and development of the pollen, that self impregnation became wholly impossible. The pods swelled well, and forty one perfect seeds were produced; which all grew. In the course of a few months, when the leaves of the young plants began to assume some breadth, a distinction was remarked between them and the leaves of seedlings of A. vittata of about the same age, sufficiently decided to enable both the gardener and myself to distinguish between them at a glance. The mule leaves were of a deeper and more glossy green, and were covered with a slight glaucous bloom, which quickly disappeared by handling. They were also free from a brownish tint, which is conspicuous towards the extremities of the young leaves of A. vittata, and devoid of the thin edge of the latter, which gives them somewhat the appearance of being surrounded by a whitish membranous margin. Under the good management of Mr. JAMES CROGHAN, Lord CARNARVON'S gardener, these bulbs grew rapidly, with magnificent foliage, their progress being continually watched by myself. The interest excited in them was the greater, because their flowering was calculated to decide the doubtful origin of Amaryllis Johnsoni, whose hybrid quality had been disputed. The first flower showed a few days ago, and was sent to you as soon as fully expanded. I believe that you will allow that the nicest observation can detect no point of distinction between it and the flower of Amaryllis Johnsoni. A second bulb is now in flower here; it is not quite so robust as the one sent to you, but it is in every other respect a fac-simile of it.1 All the other seedlings will flower in the course of this autumn, or early in the following spring; and as they resemble each other perfectly in foliage, judging from the two already blown, little variation of flower can be expected.2 The hybrid origin of A. Johnsoni I therefore now consider as placed beyond a controversy, but the tradition of the Liverpool garden to be incorrect, so far as regards its true parentage.3 The fact is interesting, because, either when self-impregnated, or impregnated by the pollen of other species, A. Jobnsoni is a free seeder. I have raised seedlings from it by its own pollen, and have a dozen seedlings from A. vittata impregnated by it, which will be three fourths vittata and one fourth Reginae; and Mr. HERBERT has seedlings from it by the impregnation of other Amaryllides. It remains to be seen whether its own pure seedlings will establish their claim to be considered as species, by strictly adhering to its type, or whether, in the course of a few generations, the influence of the male parent, A. Reginae, now so strongly shewn, will wear out, and A. vittata re-appear amongst them; or whether, according to Mr. KER'S notion, as stated by him in the Botanical Register,4 some will "revert to the single likeness of either parent, or assume new appearances in endless vicissitude."

My opinion upon the subject leans to the notion that no truly hybrid plant is capable of producing fertile seeds, and, consequently, that where a supposed hybrid actually propagates, as in the present instance, it may be inferred that its parents were not originally distinct species, but are varieties rendered permanent by the long continued influence of dissimilar soils and climates. Extraordinary changes of form, and great diversities, of colour in the corollas of flowers are daily produced in our gardens by cultivation, even unaided by differences of temperature. Is it then unreasonable to suppose, that the same species of Amaryllis, seated in the hot and moist climate, and vegetable soil of the basin of the Amazons, in the arid sandy plains of central Brazil, or in the cool regions of its mountainous districts, should, in the course of a long succession of ages, have assumed the different appearances under which we now see them? differences, in many of them, more apparent than real, in relative proportion of parts, not in structure, and scarcely marked enough for the purpose of satisfactory botanical distinction.

Believe me, Dear Sir,
most sincerely yours,
JAMES ROBERT GOWEN,
Highclere, July 28, 1821.


Note by the Secretary.

The following account of the origin of the Amaryllis Johnsoni has been communicated to me by Mr. JOHN SHEPHERD, Curator of the Liverpool Botanic garden:

"Mr. JOHNSON, who was a manufacturer of the gold hands of watches, resided at Prescot, about eight miles from Liverpool; he was very fond of his garden, and paid much attention to the plants which he cultivated in a small greenhouse, as well as in the open border. About the year 1798 or 1799, according to his statement, having impregnated A. vittata with the pollen of A. formosissima, from the seeds of the impregnation he raised several plants, most of which were lost by an accident which destroyed his greenhouse, in