LILIUM Americanum puniceo flore Bella Donna dictum
American lily with scarlet flowers, called Bella Donna.
Ex radice bulbacea rotunda, Tulipa duplo majore, foris membrana fulvescente tecta & aliquot fibris ad basin donata, prodeunt folia viridia, Narcissinis forma & substantiae lentore similia, latitudine unciali & sesquinciali quae elapso flore in longitudinem dodrantalem extenduntur. Inter quae non medius, sed relictis ad latera foliis, nudus & liber erumpit scapus pedalis, glaber, rotundus calamo scriptorio crassior, sensim gracilescens, è cujus thexa membranacea bivalvi prorumpunt flores terni, quaterni aut plures, sex petalis constructi, ex principio angusto fistuloso oblongo oriundi, eleganter punicei, marginibus & umbone pallidulis, Asfodeli liliacei floribus similes sed majores, quorum medium occupat stylus nutritivus & sex stamina concoloria incurvata, apicibus lubeis coronata.
Ex insulis Caribaeis provenit, unde ad nos delatum, flores protulit, quibus evanidis semine viduum emarcuit. Quod tamen coeteris sui generis proculdubiò simile, nobis vero hactenus nondum visum.
From a round bulbous root, twice the size of a tulip, covered on the outside with a fulvescent membrane, and provided with some fibers at the base, green leaves are produced, similar in form and substance to those of Narcissus, an inch or inch and a half broad, elongating to 9 inches in length after the flowers fade. The naked scape, produced laterally [from the side], is a foot in height, glabrous, rotund, thicker than a writing reed, becoming more slender [toward the apex], out of whose membranous bivalved sheath are produced the three, four or more flowers, constructed of 6 petals, and developing from narrow fistular oblong buds, elegantly scarlet, the margins and projecting part paler, similar to the flowers of Asphodelus liliaceus [Hemerocallis] but larger, the style and 6 concolorous incurved stamens, crowned with yellow apexes [anthers], occupy the center position.
It comes from the Caribbean Islands, from where it was sent to us; it produced flowers, and then it died down without producing seeds. It is, however, without doubt similar to others in its genus, but to us truly so far unknown.
LILIUM Africanum humile longissimis foliis polyanthos, saturato colore purpurascens. H.L.B. in App.
Pulcherrimum & gratum oculis atque naribus est Lilium hoc Africanum, quod à Narcisso pumilo Indico polyantho Cornuti non multùm differt, quamquam ad Lilii potiùs quàm ad Narcissi familiam pertinere videatur. Bulbum fert carnosum, rotundum, amplum, ex quo prodeunt folia prolixa, lata, narcissini similia, flexuosa; Caulis spithamo vix altior sustinetquinque & aliquando decem flores, quasi in umbella dispositos, è vagina membranacea bivalvi produentes, qui colore saturatè purpurascente, quae Lilium Africanum humile longissimis foliis polyanthos diluto colore purpurascente H.L.B.
Differt à Narcisso Indico pumilo polyantho Cornuti, foliis (quae in illo palmum longa, pollicem lata sunt) latioribus & multò longioribus; caule altiori, & floribus paucioribus, 19. vel 20. numerat Cornutus, cum rariùs dimidia pars in hac specie observetur.
Dr. Hermann's employment as physician to the East Indies Company allowed him to collect many specimens in Africa and the Far East. He was director of the Leyden Botanic Garden from 1679 until his death in 1695. During his directorship the garden was expanded to about 3000 species, partly under the influence of Robert Morison of Oxford. Heated greenhouses were built there between 1680 and 1687 to house exotic and tender plants.
After Hermann's death, the English botanist William Sherard edited this work for Hermann's widow, Anna Geertruda Stomphius, who paid the expenses for its publication. It was dedicated to Henry Compton, Bishop of London, a plant collector and patron of 'botanophiles'. Hans Sloane promoted the book in England. The engravings were based on Hermann's original drawings, which were acquired by Sir Joseph Banks for the British Museum. Hermann previously listed this plant, without the picture, in his Paradisi Batavi Prodromus of 1689. In that work he also described Ferrari's Donna Bellas (true and false), but took his information from the Latin edition (reprinted at Amsterdam in 1664). Only in the Italian version of 1638 did Ferrari employ the name "Donna Bella" for the South African plants, a fact not known to northern botanists at the time. Ira S. Nelson wrote in the 1955 Herbertia:
"The Aymara Indians call the Amaryllis 'horra-ho-ray-chee.' [Jarajorechi] This of course is the phonetic spelling. I was told that before the days of modern cosmetics the Bolivian girls would rub the juice of the bulbs on their cheeks to give them color. For one night their complexion would glow with radiant beauty. In the several days that followed, however, they would have to remain out of sight of their lovers because their cheeks would be drawn, cracked and as rough and ugly as they had been glamorous on the night the juice was applied. One of the older women summed it up by saying 'thank God for Max Factor'."It is possible that the name "Bella Donna" referred to this ethnobotanical use of the plant. And it may not be mere coincidence that in 1767 (Vegetable System vol 12) John Hill called Amaryllis undulata the "Wavy Fairwort".
Following the confusion in Philip Millers Figures of Beautiful Plants (1760) Linnaeus (1762) associated this plant with Amaryllis reginae, possibly because the petals did not appear to have a bend at the base (nec ad ungues recurvatis). More likely, Linnaeus simply accepted Miller's apparent identification of Hermann's plant with the "Belladonna lily" (Cape Belladonna). This was later sorted out: Miller (1768) returned Hermann's Lilium Bella Donna to Amaryllis Belladonna L. and identified the Cape Belladonna as Amaryllis regina. These identifications were accepted by Lamarck (1783), who then renamed the species punicea and rosea.
The generic name Amaryllis, published by Linnaeus in Hortus Cliffortianus (1738), was taken from the common name for this plant, Amarella or Amaryllis. John Simson painted it as Amarilla in 1729 (at right).
The name Amarella or Amarilla may have been borrowed from the Portuguese or Spanish word for yellow or gold, which is acceptable for a yellow and orange flower. In 1789, Patrick Browne (Natural History of Jamaica) described Amaryllis Belladonna as "Flore croceo nutanti", a nodding saffron-colored flower.