Transactions of the Horticultural Society. 5: 390-392

LXI. On a Hybrid Amaryllis, produced between Amaryllis vittata and Amaryllis Regina-vittata. In a Letter to the Secretary.
by JAMES ROBERT GOWEN, Esq. F.H.S.
Read May 21st, 1823.

DEAR SIR,

1 See Volume iv. page 498.

IN my Paper on the Hybrid Amaryllis Regina-vittata, published in the Transactions of the Horticultural Society,1 in which the identity of the above-mentioned hybrid with the Amaryllis Johnsoni of the gardens is (I apprehend) established, beyond controversy; I observed that it was a fertile hybrid, being a free seeder, either by self-impregnation, or by the insertion of the pollen of other species, and that I had raised a dozen seedlings from Amaryllis vittata, impregnated by it, which would be three-fourths of A. vittata, and one-fourth of A. Reginae. These seedlings were raised late in 1819, and several of them have flowered here this spring. I waited for their flowering with much curiosity, and have been gratified with the result of my experiment, which has terminated in the production of some very splendid flowers. One of the bulbs having been sent to you, for your own inspection, and that of such Members of the Society as were within reach, you have been able to satisfy yourself by ocular inspection of the beauty of this new production, which to persons unacquainted with its origin, would have appeared to be merely a variety, though a splendid one, of Amaryllis vittata, as it resembles that species in general appearance, but preserves the more expanded form and broader petals of its male parent, A. Johnsoni. With A. Johnsoni it also conforms in throwing up two scapes together, an occurrence which I have never seen but once in A. vittata, though there are numerous flowering bulbs of it in the collection at this place. When placed by the side of Amaryllis vittata, of which we had strong specimens at the same time in flower, it eclipsed it; the crimson streaks were wider, more defined, and of a richer tone of colour, which, aided by the greater width of its laciniae, and their broader expansion, gave it greatly the advantage; additional beauty also resulted from the deeper and more conspicuous tint of the crimson streaks on their exterior surface. Four of the bulbs which flowered here, and one which flowered in the collection of the Hon. WILLIAM HERBERT, at Spofforth, agreed almost entirely in character; but two others of the same set varied, by taking after the male parent A. Johnsoni, in colour and general appearance, yet differing enough to constitute lovely varieties distinguishable also from it in smell, in which respect they approximate to A. vittata.

I may as well observe here, that in calling these new productions hybrids, I adopt the phraseology in common use, without being convinced of its propriety, but rather doubting it. It appears to me highly probable, that the same obstacles which have been so wisely applied by the creative power to a confusion of races in the animal kingdom, may have been extended to the vegetable one, and that every true hybrid plant is sterile. When, therefore, by the artificial union of two plants of the same genus, classed by naturalists as distinct species, we succeed in raising a progeny perfect in all its organs, and capable of propagating itself, it may perhaps be fairly doubted, if the parent plants were originally distinct. Whether Providence originally created one species of Amaryllis, whose seedlings, becoming gradually disseminated over extensive regions within, or bordering upon, the tropics, and differing in elevation, temperature, soil, and more or less humid climate, assumed, in the course of ages, varied forms and colours of leaves, and corolla, constituting striking distinctions; or whether it created, simultaneously, many individuals of the same genus, differing enough in external appearance to be classed botanically as species, but formed in the same mould as to the organs of reproduction, and therefore capable of breeding together, are questions which I cannot presume to answer. In the expectation, however, of throwing some faint light upon the subject, I hope hereafter to transmit you some specimens of the unadulterated progeny of Amaryllis Regina-vittata, as the seedlings are making progress here. We may perhaps, in time, be able to arrive at a knowledge of the law which governs these new productions, and decide whether they are permanent or fugitive varieties, That they are beautiful acquisitions to our collections there is no doubt. I have raised some new crosses this spring, of whose magnificence I have sanguine expectations.

Believe me, dear SIR,
most faithfully yours,
JAMES ROBERT GOWEN.
Highclere, near Newbury,
9th May, 1823.


Pl. Rar. Hort. Genev. Plate 9. 1829