Jour Roy Hort Soc 51(1): 64-67 (1926)
The Brunsdonnas
(Brunsvigia xAmaryllis)
By A. Worsley

This new genus of hybrid bulbous plants, possessing great longevity, good constitution, and capacity for sustaining existence over large areas in the temperate and warm-temperate zones, will remain for hundreds of years a valued inhabitant of gardens. It is therefore important to put on record all that is known of the origin and history of these crosses.

Amaryllis Belladonna has been cultivated in Britain for fully 214 years. The first attempt to cross Brunsvigia with Amaryllis was made just 100 years ago, and even to-day these hybrids are only just coming within the ken of the majority of plant-lovers.

My effort to trace back their history for the last 100 years has entailed much difficulty notwithstanding the records of various writers, each one of whom has added something to the general stock of information. Even now one may be sure that such information is by no means complete.

The generic name Brunsdonna was given by Messrs. Van Tubergen in 1909, so that I must not be accused of capriciously altering plant-names. My object is, rather, to standardize their nomenclature upon accepted system.

*CybeRose note: The correct spelling is Bidwill

The names of Herbert, Bidwell*, Sir Henry and Lady Parker, and Mr. John Hoog will always be associated with the great work of raising this new genus of plants. What care and perseverance this work entailed can be gauged from the fact that one must wait from sixteen to twenty-two years in our climate before one can see the results of one's work in the unrivalled beauty of the flowering. But it is repaid when that time comes.

History of the Brunsdonna Hybrids.

In the early days of hybridization it was the habit to give a name to an attempted cross with pollination was effected, and without waiting to see the seedlings reach the stage of flowering. The more prudent among these early hybridists would wait until the seedlings germinated, and then, if they noticed any variation from the foliage of the female parent, would name their new plant.

*A very high percentage of seedlings of Cupressus Lawsoniana show marked juvenile erraticism, out of which they generally grow when they reach maturity. Many other plants show this trait.

My own experience is that neither procedure is admissible. Some juvenile erraticism in foliage may lead the latter astray,* whereas the former were little better than gamblers.

*Herbert, "Amaryllidaceae," pp. 278-9, 422, 425.

To which of these classes Herbert belonged is not on record. It was about 1825-26 when he crossed Brunsvigia Josephniae with the pollen of Amaryllis blanda (now extinct in gardens). There is no record of these seedlings having flowered. The question of whether he named his hybrid in a sense that would carry conviction of priority to the International Convention on Nomenclature can only be decided by the Convention. In the letterpress of his "Amaryllidaceae" he gives no specific name to his cross, but twice in the index he names it "Spofforthiae."* That his generic name was Amaryllis is not in doubt, because he places B. Josephinae, B. grandiflora, and B. Banksiana (B. Slateriana) under the genus Amaryllis.

But inasmuch as we have no evidence that he succeeded in his attempt to hybridize his parent plants, one cannot even suggest that the specific name "Spofforthiae" should be given priority. Probably Herbert made the cross more than once, losing his seedlings raised on Brunsgivia, and saving those raised on A. blanda. In Paxton's Magazine is a figure of A. blanda, sent by Mrs. Bellenden Ker from Cheshunt. It is true A. blanda, just like the figure in Botanical Magazine, t. 1450, and the bulb had been bought at Dean Herbert's sale in a lot marked "Hybrid."

Gard. Chron. July 28, 1850, p. 470

The next hybridization was made by J. C. Bidwell, Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens at Sydney, N.S.W., where he died in 1853. He effected hybridization in 1841, raising crosses both ways, and also crossed B. multiflora with Amaryllis Belladonna both ways.‡: "In February 1841 I raised a vast number of seedlings from Belladonna by B. Josephinae and by B. multiflora. Seedlings flowered in six years and are extremely beautiful. Their colour is generally like that of Passiflora kermesina, but it varies in different specimens, and many are blotched with white. There are from twenty to forty flowers on a scape. The shape varies greatly, the crosses by B. multiflora being generally wider in the segments than the others, and of a better figure, shorter and more ringent. The germen does not seem to contain any ovules, and the anthers are without pollen. Leaves varying in width from 1 inch to 4 inches, but always glaucous." And again: "In 1847 I saw a pot containing about 300 seeds of B. multiflora x A. Belladonna, but not more than thirty of them germinated. I believe the bulbs are still living (1850)." He adds that he could never keep alive the hybrids raised on B. Josephinae.

Bidwell was therefore the first person who made this inter-generic hybrid and raised its hybrids to maturity, and, by rights, the cross should have been named Brunsdonna x Bidwelli. I am at a loss to understand how his good work came to be overlooked. But it is possible to make up for shortcomings by now naming his Amaryllis Belladonna x Brunsvigia multiflora, and which he also saw in flower, Brunsdonna x Bidwelli.

* Gard. Chron. Feb. 6, 1909, p. 92.

The third time that B. Josephinae and Amaryllis were crossed was in the garden of Sir Henry and Lady Parker, when Sir Henry was Governor of N.S. Wales. It was in commemoration of this hybridization that the late Mr. W. Watson, On February 6, 1909, obtained priority for the specific name of "Parkeri."* A plant in flower was shown at the Royal Horticultural Society, from Sir H. W. Parker's garden, August 18, 1875.

+ Gard. Chron. Jan. 23, 1909, p. 57.

The fourth crossing of B. Josephinae with the pollen of Amaryllis was by Messrs. Van Tubergen of Haarlem.+ They published a figure but they failed at the time to give the hybrid a specific name.

I have also crossed these plants, but, like Bidwell, found that seedlings raised on B. Josephinae were impossible to grow on to flowering size. Both B. x Parkeri and the var. alba are fertile in my garden.

Seedlings and recently-raised Varieties.

Brunsdonna X Parkeri alba.

The almost endless variety known in florists' plants is the result of many inter-crossings and of the self-fertilization of desirable variants.

*Scott-Elliot, G.F. Changing of Species. "It would be, I think, quite possible to grossly overfeed some particular bloom with a specially nutritive material and perhaps produce something unusual."

*Species, or fixed types, in which all characters seem to be linked, will begin and continue to produce variants from the type if it is found possible to rear seeds on (or from) some chance abnormal flower that may appear. From that time the fixity of characters begins to break up, and it becomes a question of time before subsequent crossed generations exhibit a growing diversity of characters. (See Journal R.H.S., May 1911.)

‡Prior to November 1925 all these hybrids (with the exception of Messrs. Van Tubergen's hybrid) went under the generic name "Amaryllis," under which all previous references will be found

An account of A. x Parkeri‡ appeared in Journal R.H.S., November 1909. By that time I had twice obtained fruit from it. It first flowered with me in August 1897. I raised fruit upon it in 1899, and again in 1904. Only two of the seedlings from these fruits have yet flowered, and both proved typical B. x Parkeri.

B. x Parkeri alba was raised by self-fertilizing a multi-petalled flower of B. Parkeri in 1904, and it flowered for the first time in September 1911, when it received an A.M. Two bulbs from this batch have proved to be B. x Parkeri alba, and two others were B. x Parkeri.

B. x Parkeri alba varies from B. x Parkeri in several respects besides colour. In a general sense it varies as Crinum Powellii alba varies from the original C. Powellii, the flowers being larger, shorter in the tube-shaped part of the limb, and more recurved.

The seeds producing B. x Parkeri alba were discernible from those of bulbs that have produced coloured flowers. On dehiscence of the fruits these seeds were colourless; the type, coloured pink.

We have now the following four hybrids and varieties between Brunsvigia and Amaryllis.

(1) Brunsdonna x Bidwelli (probably to be found alive in some Australian gardens).

(2) Brunsdonna x Parkeri (now widely spread in gardens). (Garden. November 19, 1898, fig., p. 57.)

(3) Brunsdonna x Parkeri var. Tubergeni (in a few gardens). (Gard. Chron., January 23, 1909. fig).

(4) Brunsdonna x Parkeri alba. (Gard. Illustrated, October 3, 1925, with fig. Also Gard. Chron., November 14, 1925, with figure.)

Other hybrids are alleged to have been raised, but opportunity for examination has not been accorded me. One received A.M. on September 12, 1911, under the name Brunsdonna x Sanderae alba, when shown by Messrs. Sander of St. Albans.

Four reputed hybrids are figured on one plate in the Bulletin Soc. Toscano di Ort., 1895.

Amaryllis blanda, which Herbert grew, but which has become extinct in gardens, may perhaps be a natural hybrid Brunsdonna. According to him it was collected by Niven long before Herbert's time; for he says ("Amaryllidaceae," p. 277) that it "was found by Niven, who collected for Mr. Hibbert, and I believe has never since been met with by any collector." On the other hand, there is a plate of it in Botanical Magazine (t. 1450), and in the letterpress it is stated to have been collected by Sir Joseph Banks in the Cape of Good Hope (?), and to have been sent to Miller in 1754 by Van Royen from Holland.

The Curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has kindly given me certain records of the history of B. x Parkeri, as known to him. Bulbs were presented by Mrs. Arbuckle, of Stanwell House, Richmond, in January 1889, and were entered as A. Belladonna x B. Josephinae. Lady Parker had lived at Stanwell House prior to Mrs. Arbuckle.

My thanks are due to the Curator, and also to Mr. Coutis, for kindly looking up a large number of records treating of this hybrid, and of which I thankfully avail myself in this article.

My thanks are also due to Mr. Hutchinson, librarian of the R.H.S., for researches made by him.

Amaryllis Parkeri
The Garden (September 23, 1911)

Amaryllis Parkeri.—A strikingly beautiful and handsome variety whose flower-crowned stem is fully 3 feet in height. There were nearly thirty flowers and buds, the pedicels inclining from sub-erect to horizontal and displaying the fragrant rose-coloured flowers to advantage. The beauty of the flower is enhanced by the orange yellow colouring which is seen at the base, both internally and externally. The plant shown is practically synonymous with Amaryllis Belladonna Kew variety, but the flowers of the former possess more of the lovely orange yellow shade. In this respect it may be regarded as an improved Kew variety. Our illustration on page 460 shows this particularly interesting variety flowering for the first time in Gunnersbury House Gardens, where the true Belladonna Lily is flowering exceptionally well this year. A great difference between the type and variety may be seen in the flower-heads. There are less flowers in the type and all of them face one way, whereas the flowers of the variety are borne in a large umbel about 16 inches across. The variety is said to be a bigeneric hybrid between Brunsvigia Josephinae, a many-flowered bulbous plant from the Cape of Good Hope, and Amaryllis Belladonna. The bulbs of the new-comer were received by Mr. James Hudson, V.M.H., about six years ago from an amateur friend in New Zealand, but it was not until the present summer that they were persuaded to flower. From Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, Gunnersbury House, Acton.

Amaryllis Parkeri alba.—There is the same large head of flowers similarly disposed, also the rich orange tone at the base of the tube, as in the foregoing. The arrangement of the flowers is very suggestive of a pronounced, glorified white-flowered Clivia. It is very handsome. Exhibited by Mr. A. Worsley, Isleworth.

Brunsdonna Sanderae alba.—This is also a reputed hybrid between Brunsvigia Josephinae and Amaryllis Belladonna, though the evidence of the flowers alone suggests but little of this. In effect it would appear to be a good white-flowered Belladonna Lily, differing but slightly from a white-flowered form sent by Mr. Elwes. The flowers are slightly suffused orange at their bases, both internally and externally, and less erectly disposed than in the white Parkeri variety just noted. Exhibited by Messrs. Sander and Sons, St. Albans. All the foregoing were shown at Vincent Square on the 12th inst., and each received an award of merit.