Figures of the Most Beautiful and Uncommon Plants
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, 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 upwards so that the Summits and the Style approach near together. c, shews the bulbous Root, with the Leaves, which do not appear till the Spring. This Plant is by Sir Hans Sloane intituled, 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 Batavas, 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 [Hermann's], 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 their 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 [Daylily], and near as large, but of a soft purple Colour, inclining to white within-side 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 their 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 their 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.
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 their 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 from Off-sets, but never produces Seeds in this Country.
The confusion is obvious when we compare Miller's statements with the descriptions by Sloane, Du Tertre, Hermann and Tournefort; and with Miller's own statements in the Gardeners Dictionary. He wrote that the Portuguese Belladonna lily rarely produced more than 3 or 4 flowers, and was very different from the Italian form which had as many as twelve smaller, darker flowers. In the present work he states that the illustration refers to both the Italian and Portuguese forms. 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. Though Miller accepted that Sloane had described some form of Cape Belladonna, he did not accept Ehret's belief that Hermann's "Lilium Americanum...etc." was this plant. 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, and both were said to be common to all the warm islands of the West Indies. He even stated that "Jacobaeus" deserved to be called "Mexican Lily" because it was actually native to that country, unlike "Lilium Reginae".
The plates are missing from the copy of this book in the Sutro Library, San Francisco.