Clivia News 6(2): 12-13 (Apr 1997)
Clivia Club. PO Box 7488 Lynnwood Ridge 0040 South Africa
Discovery of early articles about Clivia
Kees Sahin

Postbus 227, Alphen an den Rijn, 2400-AE,
The Netherlands
February 19, 1997

My dear friends

When visiting my mother yesterday, who lives in our 300 year old family home at Aalsmeer, I started reading through some old gardening magazines in her library, that are from my grandfather's days.

In "Krelage's Bloemhof" for 1899 I found two articles on Clivia, that I herewith enclose.

The one from the December 1899 issue is of more than usual interest with regard to the description of named, vegetatively propagated clones, with distinctly coloured flowers of fine quality for its days.

The Hamburg specialist Reimers is a new name to me. Undoubtedly in old German magazines of its time one can find details on his person, skills and activities.

In this same article I spotted, what I thought to be a mis-spelling of Imantophyllum an old generic synonym for Clivia still sometimes used in France, printed as Imatophyllum. As in those old days text was usually correct, I checked to be certain on the 8th edition of Willis! Flowering Plants and Ferns and to my surprise I found:

Imatophyllum Hook. (1828) = Clivia Lindl. (Sect. Clivia) (Amaryllidac.) AND Imantophyllum Hook. (1854) = Clivia Lindl. (Sect. Imantophyllum (Hook.) Benth. & Hook. f.) (Amaryllidac.)

Can you imagine?

On the Cliveia as found in the article from April 1899 of Krelage's Bloemhof I could not find reference in Willis when checking upon this.

But this checking put me on to what I once knew but forgot about: x Cliveucharis Rodigas. The elusive bi-generic hybrid between a Clivia and Eucharis amazonica raised by Louis van Houtte of Ghent, a century or so ago.

We need to do research on this I think. To start with we need to screen the Van Houtte magazines for more detailed information.

Originally I thought this whole story was a joke. After all how could one produce by conventional means a bi-generic hybrid of two parents, SO diverse and from two SO different origins: Southern most Africa and Amazon America.

The last discussion I had on the subject was with the late Dr. Shuichi Hirao some 35 years ago and he said that this was a highly unlikely story.

But guess what has happened since:

My dear old friend Stanley Smee has made a hybrid of Lycoris sprengerii and Nerine bowdenii, that clearly shows the characteristics of both parents. On top of this it is fertile.

Others have made crosses between Lycoris aurea and Nerine (some hybrid) one of these is my young friend Aad Koen. I have seen the hybrid plants, that also clearly show hybrid characteristics but unfortunately his hybrid has not flowered yet.

Besides, the late Dr. John Cage made a hybrid between Sprekelia formosissima and Habranthus robustus, that I think was named by Dr Hamilton Traub x Sprekanthus cagei. Dr Cage kindly gave me some bulbs when visiting him in Palo Alto, California in the early 1970's. The plant took very kindly to cultivation. It grew rapidly and propagated in a vegetative fashion most profusely, but it was completely sterile. Moreover it looked exactly the same as Sprekelia formosissima, one of its parents.

A year or two later I gave a plant in flower to Dr Peter Brandham of the Jodrell Laboratory of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He did like the plant, but did not believe that it was a bi-generic hybrid. Upon a chromosome count, that he performed soon afterwards, he had to confirm to his great surprise, that the plant actually WAS a bi-generic hybrid. It was just in-between with 66 chromosomes (Sprekelia formosissima 2n = 120 and Habranthus robustus 2n = 12).

A similar story is the hybrid between a modern Hippaeastrum hybrid and Sprekelia that was made by Udai Chandra Pradhan of Kalimpong, India. When I last met with him, about this time last year, I failed to touch this subject. We spent a night talking Rhododendron instead. I will try to remember at the next occasion.

Also we must remember the many bi-generic hybrids of Brunsvigia (= x Amarygia Ciferri & Giacom.) and Crinum (= x Amarcrinum Hort.) with Amaryllis belladonna made by good old Les Hannibal of Fair Oaks, California. And then the bi-generic hybrids between Amaryllis belladonna and Nerine bowdenii made by C.G. Van Tubergen of Haarlem, Holland and named x Amarine tubergenii Sealy.

And there is more.

I do mention all these stories, because they indicate what is to be expected in the — perhaps not too distant — future: masses of bi-generic Clivia hybrids with such diverse fleshy seeded Amarillidaceous genera as for example: Amaryllis, Brunsvigia, Eucharis, Eurycles, Lycoris, Nerine and Pancratium. If not, by conventional means, then perhaps by somatic hybridisation, or by embryo-rescue.

You should consider sending a copy of this letter to your editor, as some of the contents may give rise to desirable action and if not, perhaps to some lively discussions at least.

With kind regards, I remain,
Yours sincerely
Kees Sahin

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