The Garden Book
Sir Thomas Hanmer (1659) 1933
I shall describe some of these strangers, and begin with one I had from Barbadoes
in the year 1655, which had a longish reasonable large grey roote, which being
planted in a pott in the Spring 1656, that May it put forth a great greene smooth
hollow stalke, about 2 foote high, without any leafe on it, on the top whereof
came two flowers shap't like Lillyes, of a fine shining red color, betwixt an
Orenge and a Pinke. In the end of June the flowers were gone, but the stalke continued
till after the greene leaves were up, which was in the end of September. They
were three in number, of the bignes of ye largest Daffodill leaves, which the
frosts of that next wynter kill'd betimes, otherwise they would, I thinke, have
continued till Spring.
Three rootes of this kind bore that yeare in three severall gardens in and neere London, but never since, though some of them are yet living, anno 1659, but different from what they did the first yeare, they did put their greene leaves forth of the earth in May, and kept them all the sommer, but no signe of stalke or flowers.
I guesse this to bee an Autumnall bulbe, which bore with us out of its season upon its transportment from the West Indyes hither, being out of the earth when the leaves should have come forth, and it is usuall for bulbes that come from remote parts to beare the first yeare and not afterwards, though the rootes live still, as I have seene often the experience of the flower of Garnsey, as wee call it. Tyme will enforme us better of the reason of these things. Some take this for Narcissus Jacobeus, but I find severall differences in the descriptions, and till I am more assur'd shall call it Narcissus Barbadicus.
The Sphaericall Indian Narcissus, called also the great Indian Moly, and the Indian Ornithogalum is of great beauty, and rare in England, though it hath been in France and Italy these twenty yeares. It hath on the top of a high stalke many branches, like those of a brancht candlesticke, the ends whereof turn upwards, and have on each a flower like a lilly, consisting of five leaves, some whereof have their leaves turning downe, and some the contrary, with six chives, and a long middle pointell crooked at the top. The color of the flower is red, like Martagon Pomponium. It flowers in September, and the greene leaves appear then not till November, but if it beare not that yeare then in October, and live till the end of May, if frosts nip them not.
There is another sort of Indian Narcissus, like that of Barbadoes which flowers in September, and hath a greate roote. The flower is as bigg as a white lilly, yellowish at the bottome, with six tamines, whitish below and reddish above, with yellowish greene horned tops. It hath sometimes twenty flowers on a stalke. The leaves appeare not till the flowers are past, and are like our great narcissi leaves.
Another sort of Indian Narcissi is that with onely One Great Flower on a great stalke reddish at the top and spotted below. The flower consists of six leaves of a rich scarlet color like the Pomegranates, with a multitude of very small red flowers on their little stalks growing like seeds within the great flower, each blossome having three reddish chives tipt with yellowish pendants. It flowers in September, and when it goes to seed, the Greene leaves come up, which are but TWO, short, broad, thicke and of a dark greene colour.
describes two other Indians thus. The first is a Dwarfe kind, with many red
flowers upon one flat stalke, of the shape and bignes of the Meadow Colchicum,
consisting of six leaves apiece, and six chives with blew tips. The flower
is extreame sweet as well as beautifull. The Roote is great and fleshy, the
greene leaves are eight or nine, a palme long, and an inch broad. They grow
winding upon the ground, and come forth of the ground together with the naked
flower stalke, which the other Indian kinds doe not. This is in flower Ante
Arcturum, and passes away in eight dayes in ye Northerne countreys without
seed. This must needs bee the same with the Figure in Parkinson which hee describeth
not, but onely calleth it the Narcissus marinus exoticus, a strange sea daffodill,
and soe leaveth it.
The second described by Cornutus is by him called Narcissus Japonicus rutiloflore, the narcissus of Japan with the red flower. The stalke (hee sayth) is naked, a foote high, greene above, but spotted with browne spotts beneath, on the top whereof, on little footstalkes stand nine or ten bright red flowers, of six leaves apiece, two inches long, but narrow, with a little furrow or crease in the middle, the leaves turn a little downe at the ends like Martagons. The chives are six, longer than the leaves of the flowers, and paler red, with purple tips. It hath no smell at all. The leaves are not great, of a pleasant greene colour, they come not forth till the stalke is wither'd.
It flowred the seaventh day of October 1634 in Morynes garden in Paris.
All or most of the Indian Narcissi have pereniall fibers, that
is such as live all the yeare, and are Hermafroditicall plants partaking of two
Speties, viz. the Lilly and the Narcissus, to the first they resemble in the
shape of their flowers, and to the latter in their rootes, greene leaves, and
some other particulars. The observ'd constant differences betwixt the Lilly and
Nrcissus are fower. 1. The Lilly hath commonly a scaly or rough Bulbous roote,
the Narcissus a smoothe one. 2. The Lilly stalkes are ever beset with small leaves
from the bottomes to the tops, but the Narcissi have none at all. 3. The Lilly
leaves come up a good while before the stalke and flowers, which those of the
Narcissi doe not. 4. The Flowers of the Narcissi breake forth out of a membraneous
skin, which the Lillyes doe not, but only out of a greene pod.
Besides all the abovementioned Narcissi there is a sort called PANCRATIUM, which is the Sea Daffodill, one of which hath White Flowers and is sometimes called in Latine Hemerocallis Valentina Clusy, and the other hath Red Flowers and is called PANCRATIUM MAIUS HISPANICUM. They both flower in Autumne, and have very greate rootes and broad leaves.
All ye Narcissi are easily preserv'd with us in a good mold, soe it bee not
very wett. Every third yeare they ought to be taken up to free them from
their ofsetts, which doe encrease very much with most kinds. The season
for that is in July, when their stalkes are fully wither'd; they must not
bee left longer for they quickly shoot out new fibres, and then 'tis ill
removing 'em. They may be kept out of the earth till about Michaelmas, and
then 'tis best replanting them, though any tyme in Autumne may serve the
The Indian Narcissi and the Pancratia are very tender, and difficultly preserv'd. They must bee put into vessells that bee hous'd in wynter. They ought to be set at first in a sandy mold in Spring, with consum'd dung, in potts in a hott bed to draw out the fibers, and then remov'd, pott and all, to stande under a warme wall, where they must bee covered with glasses in the nights, and cold stormy days.
Water not the rootes before they grow apparently, and if they take to grow, remove them not, but put new mold of sifted dung and earth to the rootes yearly as they stand. Take them not forth of the house from October to the middle of Aprill.
The Indians come not here to that perfection as to afford seed, neither doe any of the Dowble kinds yield any. The other sorts doe most of them seed well, which if gather'd full ripe, and in faire weather, and sowed in fine, small, rich mold in potts, or otherwise, will produce encrease enough, but seldome any new kinds.
Thus much concerning Narcissi or Daffodills, to which wee will only adde this note, that those are called Bastard Narcissi, or according to the Latine authors PSEUDONARCISSI, which have their cupps or trunkes longer than their wings, or leaves of their flowers, and those with the very short cups or coronetts are the true Narcissi.
This is not the earliest reference to an American Amaryllis Aldinus
described one in 1625 (Italy), and Vallet depicted two in 1608 (France)
but it is the earliest mention I've found of the plants blooming in
England. The Belladonna lily of Portugal (or Damascus Lily) was not introduced until 1712, according to
Philip Miller, 57 years after the genuine Barbados lily bloomed in
It may be significant that Sir Thomas guessed that the plants were Autumnal because they failed to bloom in Spring or at all after the first time in 1656. A century later, the story circulated that Cape Belladonnas, which are actually autumnal, were the plants collected in Barbados by Sir Hans Sloane. If 18th century gardners could confuse the Lilionarcissus rubeus Indicus of Aldinus with the Guernsey lily, as Douglas (1725) reported, they could as easily mistake Sir Thomas Hanmer's "Autumnal" Barbados lilies for Cape Belladonnas.
Vallet (1608) also described Hippeastrum puniceum as "autunal", but gave no explanation for the name. Perhaps his plant came from South America.
Hanmer misread Cornut's description of the Dwarfe narcissus, Narcissus pumilus, etc. Cornut described the stamens as "apicibus ceruleis", which Hanmer translated as "with blew tips". But cerula means miniata colored like red lead. Apparently Hanmer mistook ceruleis for caeruleus, which does mean blue.
It is also worth noting that Hanmer mentioned the "flower of Garnsey", but apparently did not connect it with Cornut's Narcissus Japonicus rutiloflore. Cornut described the flowers as Cinnabaris, but English writers called it "purple" or peach (blossom) colored.
Finally, Hanmer informed us that the flower of the Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is scarlet. This supports my suggestion that puniceo may allude to Pomegranate flowers rather than exclusively to the famed dye or tapistries of Sidon/Tyre/Phoenicia. That is, Hermann's Lilium Americanum, puniceo flore, Belladonna dictum might be translated as American Lily, with pomegranate-colored flowers, called Bella donna. Ferrari (1633), in fact, described Haemanthus coccineus as "flore puniceo."
Hanmer's book remained in MS form until the 20th century, so it would not have been cited by contemporary or later botanists. But his opinions could have had influence just the same, particularly "in and neere London", which was the center of the Belladonna confusion.