Figures of the most Beautiful, Useful, and Uncommon Plants described in the Gardener's Dictionary (1760)
Philip Miller

PLATE XXIII p. 15

AMARYLLIS, Lin. Gen. Plant. 367. Lilio-Narcissus, Tourn. R. H. 385, Tab 207, Raii. Method. Plant, 120.

Lily Daffodil

This Genus of Plants is by Doctor Linnaeus placed in his Sixth Class, and in the First Section of the Class, intitled, Hexandria Monogynia, i.e. Plants whose Flowers have Six Stamina, and One Style. Doctor Tournefort places it in the Fifth Section of his Ninth Class, intitled, Plants with a Lily Flower, composed of Six Leaves, whose Empalement becomes a Fruit. Mr. Ray places it in his Twenty-third Class, which he titles, Herbs with grassy Leaves, bearing Flowers which have a tricapsular Seed-vessel.

By some of the old Writers on Botany, who have mentioned any of the Species of this Genus, they are called either Lilies, or Narcissus, as their Flowers have some Affinity to both these Genera. This induced Dr. Tournefort to make a new Genus of them; and as they approached near to the Lily in some Species, and in others to the Narcissus, he compounded the Two Names of Lily and Narcissus to Lilio-Narcissus; but Doctor Linnaeus, having rejected these compound Titles, has altered it to Amaryllis, which is an ancient Name of a Plant.

The Species here represented are,

Pl. XXIII
AMARYLLIS spatha multiflora corollis campanulatis marginibus reflexis genitalibus declinatis
AMARYLLIS spatha multiflora, corollis campanulatis aequalibus, genitalibus declinatus, i.e. Amaryllis with many Flowers included in the same Cover, whose Flowers are equal, and Bell-shaped, having the Parts of Generation declined; commonly known in England be the Name of Belladonna Lily. This is the Fifth Species mentioned in the Gardener's Dictionary. a a, represents the Spatha, or Cover, which includes the Flower-buds, and opens in Two Parts, when the Flowers are near expanding. b, shews the Stamina with the Style, which decline toward the lower Part of the Flower, but turn upward; so that the Summits and the Style approach nearly together. c, shews the bulbous Root, with the Leaves, which do not appear till the Spring.

This Plant is by Sir Hans Sloane intitled, Lilio-Narcissus polyanthos, flore incarnato, fundo ex luteo-albiscente, Cat. Jam. 115. Doctor Tournefort supposed this was the same Plant which Professor Herman has figured in the Paradisus Batavus, under the name Lilium Americanum puniceo flore, Belladonna dictum, and the Red Lily of Du Tertre; but he was mistaken. The next Plate represents Professor Herman's Plant, and the Red Lily of Du Tertre is a Third Species, different from both these. The Title of Belladonna has been applied in different Countries to this Plant, and also to that mentioned by Sir Hans Sloane; which may have occasioned the Mistake made by Doctor Tournefort; the Plant which is figured in this Plate being so called in Portugal and Italy, whereas the other Sort was sent from America to Holland, by the same Name; but whoever attends to the Description of Herman's Plant, can have no doubt of its being the same which is exhibited in the next Plate. This Plant, which is here represented, is said to be gathered by Sir Hans Sloane, in the Island of Barbados; and his Description seems to be well enough adapted to this Plant; but from all the Intelligence I have been able to procure from the Inhabitants of the several American Islands, they have but Two Species of what they call Lilies; One White, which is a Pancratium, and the other Red, which is what I have before mentioned, and is a very different Species from this. The Plant here figured was brought to England from Portugal, about the Year 1712, by a Gentleman who had long resided in that Country, who informed me that the Roots were brought from India into that Country, and were propagated by some curious Persons in their Gardens near Lisbon; but whether from the Want of Care to propagate them, or by their sending them from thence to other Countries, is not easy to determine, but there is a Scarcity of these Flowers now in Portugal, where the Jacobaea Lily is at present in greater Plenty. This sort usually flowers about the End of September, or the beginning of October, in England; and, if the Roots are strong, the Stem will rise upward of Two Feet high, being naked, and of a Purple Colour, having Five, Six, or Seven Flowers at the Top, which are in Shape like the common Red Lily, and near as large, but of a soft purple Colour, inclining to white withinside toward the Bottom, having an agreeable Scent. If the Season is favourable, or the Flowers are screened from Frost, which sometimes happen at that Time of the Year, as also from violent Winds, or heavy Rains, they will continue in Beauty a Month, or longer; and are very ornamental Plants to a Garden, at a Season when there is a great Scarcity of Flowers; therefore they are worthy of being propagated by all those whose Delight is in Flowers. As these Flowers appear so late in Autumn, they never produce any Seeds in England; therefore they can only be propagated by Off-sets here, which is but a slow Method of increasing their Roots; for they are too tender to live in open Borders in this Country; therefore whoever proposes to have these Flowers multiply with them, should plant them in a warm Border, near a South Wall, putting the Roots Six or Eight inches deep in the Ground; and before the severe Frost sets in, the Borders must be covered Four or Five Inches thick with rotten Tanners-bark, to prevent the Frost from penetrating the Ground: With this Management the Roots will thrive, and in the Spring they will put out strong Leaves, which will remain flourishing till the end of June, when they will begin to decay; and soon after they may be transplanted: But they should not be removed oftener than every third Year, if they are expected to produce strong Flowers; nor should they be planted in a moist Soil, for in such their Bulbs will rot in Winter. There is another Species of this Genus, which approaches near to this here figured, but differs in having a much paler Flower; and the Flowers are produced in the Spring, whereas this always flowers in Autumn. The Sort here mentioned was brought from the Cape of Good Hope, in the year 1754, to Holland. Some of the bulbs were sent me by Doctor David Van Royen, the present Professor of Botany at Leyden, which have produced their Flowers in the Chelsea Garden; and are in Shape so like that here figured (as are also the Leaves of the Plant), as not to be distinguished therefrom, but by the Colour, and the Time of its flowering.

The Sort here figured is by the Italians called Narcissus Belladonna, and is cultivated in great Plenty in the Gardens about Florence; so that in the Autumn Season it is one of the greatest Ornaments of their Gardens. The Flowers are brought to Market there, and are used to adorn their Houses and Churches; for at that Season there is a Scarcity of other Flowers.

PLATE XXIV p. 16

Pl. XXIV
AMARYLLIS spatha multiflora corollis campanulatis aequalibus genitalibus declinatis Lin. H. Cliff. 135
AMARYLLIS spatha multiflora, corollis campanulatis aequalibus, marginibus undulatis, i.e. Amaryllis with many Flowers inclosed in the same Spatha, or Cover, whose Petals are equal, shaped like a Bell, and their Borders waved. This is commonly known in England by the Title of Mexican Lily. It is figured by Herman in the Paradisus Batavus; and is there titled, Lilium Americanum puniceo flore, Belladonna dictum, p. 194. This Title of Belladonna might probably lead Doctor Tournefort into the Mistake of supposing it to be the same with that Species which is mentioned by Sir Hans Sloane in his Catalog of American Plants; but if he had attended to the Description which Doctor Herman has given of his Plant, he would have found it to be very different from the Belladonna Lily before described. a,a, represents the Spatha, or Cover, which surrounds the Flower-buds, and divides into Two Parts, when the Buds are near opening. b, shews the Stamina, or Male Organs, which are situated round the Style c; and all of them are declined toward the lower Part of the flower.

This plant has been more than Thirty Years in England; but from whence it was brought is not certain. It flowered in Mr. Fairchild's Garden at Hoxton in 1728, when the late Doctor James Douglass caused a Figure of it to be drawn, and wrote a Folio Pamphlet on it. He gave it the Title of Lilium Reginae, because it was in full Beauty on the First of March, which was the late Queen's Birth-day. Mr. Fairchild told me the roots were brought from Mexico; so he gave it the Name of Mexican Lily, which is still continued to it by English Gardeners. Doctor Herman says it came from the Caribbee Islands; but all the Roots which I have received from those Islands, by the Title of Red Lily, are of a Different Sort from this.

It flowers confidently in the Spring, when it is placed in a very warm Stove. It is in Beauty in February; and those which are in a moderate Temperature of Air will flower in March or April. The Stems of these Flowers seldom rise much more than a Foot high; and each Stem produces Two, Three, or Four Flowers, rarely more than that Number. It is much tenderer than the former Sort, therefore will not thrive in this Country, unless it is preserved in a warm Stove in Winter. It propagates by Off-sets, but never produces Seeds in this Country.


Figures... was issued in 50 monthly parts from 1755 to 1760, the plates being dated from 25 March 1775 to 30 July 1760. 47 parts had been published by 31 March 1759.

I was surprised to find that Miller had not included the excellent paintings of these two Amaryllis painted by his brother-in-law, George Ehret. Linnaeus also thought the work would have been better with more of Ehret's plates. The plates reproduced here were executed by T. Jefferys, and dated 1755.

The confusion would be obvious even if the descriptions had not been misnumbered. A careful reader may notice that the text for Plate XXIII mentions the bulb, which is not found in the corresponding picture, but beyond that there is little to aid the reader's understanding.

The text for Plate 24 includes the phrase-name AMARYLLIS, spatha multiflora, corollis campanulatis aequalibus, marginibus undulatis, but Plate 23 is labeled AMARYLLIS spatha multiflora, corollis campanulatis aequalibus, marginibus reflexis genitalibus declinatus, which was Miller's usual name for Du Tertre's Red Lily, rather than Lilium Reginae Douglas.

It is odd that Miller accused Tournefort of error for confounding the plants described by Sloane, Hermann and Du Tertre, as Sloane himself cited Hermann and Du Tertre in his description of the Red Lily. Tournefort was one of Sloane's botany teachers.

Though Miller grudgingly (it seems) reported that Sloane had described a form of Cape Belladonna, he did not accept Ehret's belief that Hermann's Lilium Americanum...etc. was that plant. Because of the mislabeled text, the reader is allowed to assume that Miller did equate Hermann's Belladonna with the Cape Belladonna.

In various editions of Gardeners Dictionary, Miller distinguished two forms of the Red Lily, but not consistently. The only differing characteristic was that one had recurved petals (as shown in Merian's plate) while the other had broader petals with undulate margins. Both were described as copper inclining to red, both were said to be common to all the warm islands of the West Indies, and both were called "Mexican Lily". He noted that "Jacobaeus" deserved to be called "Mexican Lily" because it was actually native to that country.

In the second edition of Species Plantarum (1762) Linnaeus accepted that Hermann's Belladonna was called "Belladonna Lily" in England, and depicted in Plate XXIV. He named it Amaryllis reginae, as suggested by the name Lilium Reginae in the accompanying text. Sloane's plant (Plate XXIII), which he had first described in Hortus Cliffortianus (1738), remained Amaryllis Belladonna as in 1753.

It is possible that Linnaeus became aware of the confusion, which he addressed in Mantissa Plantarum (1767 & 1771) by referring only to the plates of Dr. John Hill under Amaryllis Belladonna. Sealy claimed that Hill had actually worked with Hippeastrum reginae, but Hill disagreed. The plant depicted in 1758 bloomed February-March, and Hill later (1774) noted that his Amaryllis reginae bloomed in August and produced its leaves soon after, which is about right for a Cape Belladonna. Hort. Kew. has the bloom time for Amaryllis reginae as May-June, which presumably indicates a different plant.

In Hortus Kewensis it is claimed that the plates were misnumbered. The relevant fact is that the plates were numbered, and that Linnaeus referred to them as printed.

Modern writers have supposed, rather strangely, that Linnaeus meant to distinguish two species of West Indies Red Lily, but confused a purple Cape Belladonna with Merian's beautiful orange specimen. This is a dubious assumption at best, and untenable because in 1768 Miller identified Amaryllis reginae as the pink flowered Belladonna Lily, and Amaryllis Belladonna as the scarlet. The later confusion can be traced through Ehret to Morison's and Plukenet's misreading of Ferrari.

Ironically, the confusion in Ferrari's Flora is much the same as that in Miller's Figures: three species were described in both works, but only two were illustrated. Multiple names for the species, and confusing text, easily mislead readers of both works.