Les died in December 2001. I forgot I even had this paper. We had a good time disputing over this issue.

Amaryllis belladonna rubra bicolour, the Linnaeus type specimen

‡There is no evidence connectin this unlabled specimen to Linnaeus, Clifford, or anyone else. By Hannibal's own argument, the Blank Specimen is remarkably similar to a variety bred in the mid-19th century.

The enclosed is a 1982 manuscript on Amaryllis belladonna rubra bicolour. This dwarf form of A. Belladonna was common at one time about Hayward, California. The Portuguese brought the bulbs in from the Canary or Madiera Islands as momentos from home around 1890. I still have a few. They like adobe soil, and are obviously the type form that Linnaeus preserved.‡

Les Hannibal, July 1998

Additional Cape Amaryllis belladonna L. findings by L. S. Hannibal 1982
Fair Oaks, California 95628

As a supplement to my report in the 1980 Amaryllis Bulletin I wish to add the recent findings and observations which indicates (1) that the Linnaeus Amaryllis belladonna holotype in the British Museum appears to be the variant form known as A. belladonna var. rubra bicolour and 2) that Linnaeus obviously confused this plant with its vivid red perianths with published descriptions of Hippeastrum puniceum (Lam.) Voss. (Syn. H. equestre Herb.)

†CybeRose note: Les drew my attention to this illustration, and gave me seeds from his plant. However, he never read the text published with the picture. It informs us that this beautiful variety was raised from seed by Truffaut, a plant breeder. It was also listed and illustrated in Allgemeine thüringische Gartenzeitung 10:71 (1851)

The A. belladonna var. rubra bicolour was featured in the Flores des Serres, t-1415.† Many old Portuguese houses and farms grow this variant in California as a memento from their home land. It is not known when the bulb was introduced into Portugal, but it probably dates back to 1600-1650 while the Portuguese had access to the Cape area of South Africa. The variant is distinguishable by its vividly colored late season blossoms, namely the non-heat fading near crimson perianths and snow white tubes. The form normally carries eight or nine small blossoms on a short twenty inch scape. The tube base is yellow and as the blossoms age the red pigmentation gradually migrates down the throat to the yellow area. Another distinguishable feature is the very short pedicels which are normally a fourth as long during early stages af flowering. These are roughly a fourth as long as the better known major's pedicels.

*CybeRose note: This description was published by Sloane; I read "luteo albescente" as
"yellowish white",
not "clear yellow". No doubt the colors vary in different regions.

Tepal length and width, pedicel length, spaths valve length, and scape diameter agree closely with measurements made from the Linnaean specimen. Secondly, the color descriptions are in much closer agreement than H. puniceum is with the Linnaean color description "Lilio Narcissus Polyanthos, flore incarnato, fundo ex luteo albescente."* I know of no Hippeastrum puniceum with a clear yellow zone at the base of the tube. Normally this area is a bright green with traces of yellow pigmentation.

Two other factors turned up which tend to confirm the identity of the Linnaean specimen. First, the specimen is four flowered. Some individuals consider the scape 'Aborted'. Four out of seven bulbs which flowered for the writer in early October, 1981 were four-flowered, probably due to the bulbs being moved the previous November. A check of some 800-1,000 flowering scapes of A. belladonna var. purpura major and Brunsdonna bidwillii (some may prefer the name Amarygia bidwillii) showed one scape which had five blossoms, none less. Communication with others indicates one other bulb of rubra bicolour had produced a five flower umbel. Thus a four flowered umbel is not a matter of unique chance but a specific minimum limit for the variant. The behavior of these bulbs as compared to the Linnaean specimens cannot be overlooked.

Finally, we have the method employed by Linnaeus in preserving the A. belladonna specimen. Solid scaped bulbs like Crinum and Cape A. belladonna forms are difficult to press and dry. The scape provides nourishment for months and the blossoms will continue to grow and set parthenogenetic seed unless drastic measures are taken to curb cell action, such as heating the specimen to 150 deg. F. or better. (The writer used a microwave oven set on simmer for 10 minutes). Obviously lay personnel in 1735 at Cliffords in Holland would probably not know of the difficulties incurred with the solid scaped A. belladonna. So it is very likely that Linnaeus pre anticipated the difficulty and subjected the freshly pressed specimen to considerable heat to prevent further bud growth. This is evident in that the pedicels of the specimen are of normal length, representative of those of A. belladonna var. rubra bicolor whose blossoms are two days open. We have no evidence that Linnaeus actually prepared the specimen, but it would take a very experienced person to anticipate and avoid the problems this particular plant would incur. Thus, we conclude Linnaeus definitely had a hand in the preparation of this specimen at Cliffords.

*Or did he know the bulb was called "Donna Bella?" This could have contributed to his
carelessness in confusing it with the Hippeastrum called 'Bella Donna." Who knows?
CybeRose note: The Cape Belladonna was called "Donna Bella Falsa" only in the Italian
translation of 1638. Clearly, Linnaeus took the name from Herrmann.

William Tjaden makes a statement in 1981 Plant Life, p. 25, suggesting that Linnaeus possibly overlooked listing the Cape belladonna and was dependent upon literature featuring the Caribbean-American bulbs as A. belladonna. There are several debatable factors here where no clear proof exists. There is no evidence that Linnaeus had seen the Ferrari or Barrelius publications featuring the long pediceled purpura variants. His listing of Phillip Miller's illustrations t-24 as H. reginae in Species Plantarum II indicates this, as well as confusion over 10-12 flowered umbels. Primarily he was pressed for time at Cliffords, saw the published plates of H. punicum, encountered evidence that they were called 'Donna bella,' not knowing the Cape bulb was called that in Italy for better than 100 years,* and without checking his herbarium specimen of four blossoms to the scape assumed the red flowered rubra bicolour variant and H. punicum were identical. Failure to check his herbarium specimen against new specimens is a common failure evident in much of his latter life. Thus shortage of time, haste, and confusion most likely led Linnaeus to the "cribbing" of the statement "Spatha multiflora, corollis campanulatus aequalibus, genitalibus declanatus." But it is far far more evident that he had the variant rubra bicolour's color pattern in mind when he followed with " flora incarnato, fundo ex luteo albescente." The latter statement fits the A. belladonna var. rubra bicolour far better that H. puniceum, keeping in mind that the variant's perianth is a bright red (RHS Rose Bengal 25/0.5 to 25/1.5) which is clearly the Incarnato of Linnaeus.

In conclusion the above findings and observations merely reinforce the original J. E. Dandy and F. R. Fosberg reviews of 1954 covering the Cape Belladonna as Amaryllis belladonna Lin., as given in Taxon Vol. 3, no. 8, Nov. 1954. But the primary discovery is the apparent identity of the Linnaean holotype which now requires further study.

Table I
Comparisons of Cape Amaryllis belladonna L. forms

Floral parts Linne. Herbarium var. rubra bicolor var. pupurea major
Scape 7 mm. dia. 32 cm. x 7 mm. dia. 55 cm. x 10 mm. dia.
Umbel 4-flowered 4-flowered sample, normal 12-13 normally 8-9
Spathe value length 4 cm. approx. 4.3 cm. long. 6.5 cm. long.
Bracts length 4 cm.? 4 cm. 5.5 cm.
Pedicels length when flowering 1.2-1.4 cm. 1 to 1.5 cm. 3 to 6 cm.
Ovary length 7. mm 7 mm. 8 mm.
Tepal size 7.5 long 7 cm. x 2 cm. width. 10.5 cm. x 2.8 cm. width.
Tepal perianth color incarnato RHS 25/0.5 to 1.5 red RHS 628 heat variable
Tepal tube lower 1.5 cm. luteo RHS 402/2 Naples yellow
blending to white.
RHS 606/1-2 Chinese yellow
blending to pale rose.
Upper tepal albescente Clear white Pale rose
Stigma ? 7.3 cm long, declinate, red  

* A check with several Hippeastrum growers indicate that the tepal tubes to H. puniceum (Lam.) Voss tends to be nearer green-chartreuse in the interior and reddish on the exterior, and that the Linnaeus color description lacks the "feel" of the American Amaryllis. Further, H. punicum normally carries two blossoms: three blossoms are exceptional and appear less than one percent of the time.

Amaryllis belladonna var. rubra bicolour showing normal position and arrangement of a four-flowered Umbel. Note short pedicels similar to the Linnaeus holotype and color of tube base. In appearance the blossoms resemble Hippeastrum puniceum more closely than the Barrelius plate showing the gross A. belladonna var. purpurescence form. Color wise there is no comparison.


Caption to Linnaeus----Jacob Alm Plantae Surinamenses plates:

Jacob Alm's Doctorate presentation as edited by Linnaeus, dated June 12, 1775 on Plantae Surinamenses. Note, Amaryllis 98. dubia.  Mer. surin.  t. 22, Corolla basi laciniarum barbata."

This is positive proof that Linnaeus's Amaryllis belladonna did not have "bearded pads" in the throat of the blossoms which is typical of Hippeastrum puniceum and allied Hippeastrum, such as Hermanns plate 194. This discovery nullifies Traub claims. The editing was solely that of Linnaeus, no one else!

Please note that this Jacob Alm's specimen was found in the Linnaeus Herbarium by Wm Herbert and illustrated in his 1837 Amaryllidaceae, plate 21, f.1, as a Hippeastrum barbatus. (a H. equestre variant), Syn. Crinum barbatum Linnaeus.

In other words, Linnaeus did not know that Hippeastrum had bearded throats. He thought it a Crinum!

And for Ehret's Amaryllis with red keeled blossoms. These were drawings of Crinum scabrum and variants from Gulf Coast, Ghana, which Aiton listed as Amaryllis ornata polyphyletic forms.

Les Hannibal