Transactions of the Horticultural Society. 5: 361-364

LII. Description of Amaryllis Psittacina-Johnsoni, a new Hybrid Variety raised by WILLIAM GRIFFIN, Esq.,
and recently flowered in the Collection at Highclere. In a Letter to the Secretary.

By JAMES ROBERT GOWEN, Esq. F.H.S. 
Read January 21, 1823. 

My dear Sir,  

ANOTHER Hybrid Amaryllis has just come into flower in this collection, possessing such extraordinary beauty, that I have been induced to send the specimen to London, for the inspection of yourself and such Members of the Society as may wish to see it. It was given to Lord CARNARVON by my friend WILLIAM GRIFFIN, Esq., who raised it in his hothouse at South Lambeth, previous to the year 1820, from seed of Amaryllis Johnsoni, the capsules of which he had impregnated with the pollen of A. Psittacina. The knowledge of its parentage led me to form great expectations of its beauty, and to pay it very particular attention. It has grown rapidly here, and a few days ago produced two scapes, which have just expanded their flowers. My anticipations have been fully equalled, and I think it may fairly be pronounced the most splendid individual of this splendid genus. It bears so great a general resemblance to A. Psittacina, that by a person unacquainted with the circumstances of its origin, it would be taken for a variety (a very splendid one indeed) of that species; but it differs from it in several material points, which I will endeavour to describe, and I may premise, that my comparison is drawn from a flower of an older and larger bulb of A. Psittacina, which expanded on the same day with the hybrid.

The corolla of the hybrid Amaryllis Psittacina-Johnsoni, is nearly an inch longer than that of A. Psittacina; it expands about an inch wider. The upper lacinia of the corolla of A. Psittacina assumes a horizontal position; in the hybrid it is inclined upwards. and the laceniae are altogether more regularly and widely expanded, so that the flower shews itself more advantageously. The faucial membrane of A. Psittacina is minutely denticulated; in the hybrid it is conspicuously bearded. But the superior beauty of the hybrid is to be found in its colouring; in A. Psittacina the crimson tint is confined almost entirely to a small terminal portion of the petals, and a few small streaks proceeding thence. In the hybrid, it is not only of a richer quality of colour, but occupies a much larger space, being diffused over the whole margin of the laciniae, besides a most delicate pencilling of the same fine colour, which is streaked over the greater part of their surface with an inimitable richness of effect, which is much enhanced by a cream-coloured stripe proceeding from the central green mass, and prolonged to their tips. But it is so difficult to convey in words an adequate idea of the complicated colouring of the flower, that I must refer you to actual inspection of it. It only remains to me to add that the foliage differs materially, as might be expected, from that of its parents, but approximates more nearly to the male than to the female parent. The leaves are rather broader than those of A. Psittacina: they are of a lucid and somewhat dark green, not having the slightest trace of that glaucous hue so conspicuous in the foliage of that plant; they are also tinged with brown towards their points, and diverge at once from the bulb, instead of being produced into a leek-shaped neck, as is the case in A. Psittacina. The bulb will increase faster than that of A. Psittacina, but it does not appear so much disposed to make offsets as the hybrids derived from A. rutila, in which that propensity is so strong, as to be inconvenient.

I have no doubt that the bulb will grow to a considerable size, that it will be very free in flowering, and that the next blossoms will be larger. I think you will allow that its extraordinary beauty renders it one of the greatest ornaments of our collections. As it grows older it may be expected to produce four flowers on a scape. I have heard that A. Psittacina has done so in the Liverpool Garden, and I have often seen four on a scape of A. Johnsoni.

I am, dear Sir,
JAMES ROBERT GOWEN.
Highclere, near Newbury, January 18, 1823.    


Note by the Secretary.

On the 15th of July, 1823, Mr. GRIFFIN sent to the Garden of the Society two plants of Amaryllis Psittacina-Johnsoni, which had been produced at the same time, and from the same parents and impregnation, as the bulb, which has been noticed and described by Mr. GOWEN in the above Paper. The plants sent by Mr. GRIFFIN were in full flower, and were exhibited at the Meeting of the Society, on the day they were received. The blossoms, though very beautiful, were by no means so splendid as those described by Mr. GOWEN, and this difference is thus accounted for by Mr. GRIFFIN, in a letter which accompanied the plants: "In a family of seedling mule Amaryllis you will find a marked distinction between the plants. Some of them having the stronger resemblance to the father, and others to the mother plant. There are also other varieties partaking in some degree of both; both these variations are trivial, and never sufficient to destroy the leading distinction of parental resemblance; therefore, no one description can ever answer for a whole family of seedling mule plants of Amaryllis. I send you two plants from the same batch of seed as the plant described was raised from, These will exemplify what I say. They are weak plants, but such as they are, they are at the Society's service, I have only to add, that the foliage of some of my seedlings is glaucous, and some of the bulbs have a leek-shaped neck, though not so much as A. Psittacina."