Collectanea Botanica (1821)

John Lindley

Tab11: Amaryllis solandraeflora

For this fine addition to our collections of Liliaceous plants, the public is indebted to Mr. Brookes of Newington, who lately imported it, with several other rare plants, from Cayenne. Our drawing was made from a plant in the possession of W. Cattley, Esq.

Notwithstanding the great and striking between this plant and Amaryllis vittata in the flowers, there is an astonishing similarity in the leaves, by which alone the plants certainly cannot be distinguished. In addition to the extraordinary length of the perianth, which has considerable resemblance to that of Solandra grandiflora, there is a wide difference in the stigma, which in the present plant is obtusely 3-lobed, and in A. vittata deeply trifid. We understand that Mr. Brookes has other bulbs of this species, the flowers of which are streaked with crimson, by which the are much improved in beauty, and show yet more strongly the affinity of the plant to A. vittata, which there is reason to believe is also a native of the same continent; from whence it has been repeatedly received by our friend Mr. Griffin under its common appearance; and from whence the splendid variety represented in our next plate has also been obtained.

Amaryllis Solandraeflora undoubtedly belongs to that set of plants which has been indicated by Mr. Herbert, in some remarks on the genera of Amaryllideae lately published in the Botanical Magazine, as constituting what he considers Amaryllis proper, all of which are confined to the western hemisphere, and which he thinks form a genus altogether different from the Cape plants previously included under the same denomination. In our next article we shall take occasion to examine the principles upon which the alterations proposed by the ingenious author have been founded, and endeavor to ascertain in what cases it may be advisable to adopt them.

Tab 12: Amaryllis vittata var. major

The subject of this article is another of the magnificient Liliaceous plants of South America, acquired by the unwearied exertions of W. Griffin, Esq. who has succeeded in importing so many species of that his favourite family, within a few years. It was procured several years ago from Brazil, and, though assuredly only a variety of A. vittata, is so fine a plant, and so far superior to its prototype, that we entertain no feaar of being censured for publishing it. The Cape of Good Hope has been erroneously reported to be the native country of this species; Mr. Griffin informs us that the bulbs he has received from thence under the name of vittata, have uniformly been of A. revoluta.

This and the preceding plant have naturally led us to the consideration of the principles upon which certain alterations have been made by Mr. Herbert in Amaryllis, and the genera allied to it; which we will first endeavour to explain, and then proceed to examine. The ardour, and we believe we may add success, with which the ingenious author cultivates a noble collection of Liliaceous plants at Spofforth in Yorkshire, entitles his remarks to great attention; and, however much we may occasionally differ from him in opinion, we do not hesitate to recommend his remarks to the attentive examination of those who wish to be acquainted with the tribe of lants now before us.

Amaryllis, as understood by Mr. Dryander and Mr. Ker, contains those Liliaceous plants which have an hexaploid irregular flower, and six declinate filaments inserted into the mouth of the tube, and unequal either in proportion or direction. The numerous species comprised under this definition being very different from each other in habit, Mr. Herbert has divided them into several other genera, which he calls Coburgia, Leopoldia, Galatea (afterwards Nerine), and Lycoris. His Amaryllis has flat seeds; Coburgia round seeds; Leopoldia the same seeds as Coburgia, and the outer segments of the flower completely united to the tube; Nerine radiating segments to the flower, which is divided down to the ovarium, stamens forming a cup by their dilated bases, and round or angular seeds; Lycoris a simple fimbriated stigma, and seeds supposed to be roundish. A difference between the stamens of Leopoldia, Coburgia, and Amaryllis, is mentioned by Mr. Herbert, which we have in vain sought to discover. Amaryllis purpurea is transferred to Cyrtanthus, and the species of Amaryllis with great fleshy seeds to Crinum.

Now there is a rule for forming genera which has been admirably prescribed by Linnaeus, that "Genus dabit characterem, et non character genus;" a rule which is perpetually quoted, but too often neglected; on which nevertheless all the principles of generic discrimination absolutely depend. In fact, it is the only test by which the value of the characters can be ascertained with precision. On this principle, if it can be shown that the plants combined into genera by the differences indicated above are not alike in habit, but, on the contrary, extremely dissimilar; and that others with a very similar habit are disunited, it will follow that the distinction upon which they have been divided or combined must be considered modi and not formae, if we may use that expression; and consequently of importance for distinguishing species, but not genera. How far this may really be the case, we will now proceed to inquire.

In Amaryllis are included all the South American species with the habit of equestris; that is to say, with an upright spatha and divaricating flowers. So far, therefore, the genus is natural and perhaps good; But unfortunately, A. reticulata, which has nearly all the artificial characters of Coburgia, exhibits precisely the same habit, and is moreover a native of the same country, notwithstanding Mr. Herbert's ingenious conjecture to the contrary. It is said however to form a genus of itself (Leopoldia), which would in some measure be an answer to this objection, if it really had any characters to distinguish it from Coburgia: this however not being the case it destroys not only its own genus, but Coburgia, too. Under the latter title are comprised A. blanda and Belladonna, with Brunsvigia multiflora! and Josephinae!!; plants even more unlike each other than Cyrtanthus obliquus and A. purpurea, which are referred to one genus on equally insufficient grounds. Nerine we feel willing to adopt, because we think it a very natural group; Lycoris also is possibly separated with propriety; but we have never had an opportunity of examining any species of it alive.

We do not wish it to be understood, from any thing which may have been said, that we are averse to the division of Amaryllis into several genera. On the contrary, it is, probably, necessary that some further alteration should be made to it; but on very different principles from those just examined. Of these we may perhaps have an opportunity of speaking at some future time. Our limits will not allow us to enlarge upon the subject at present, further than to add that the fleshy-seeded Amaryllides referred to Crinum by Mr. H., have not been removed from the former genus with more reason than the other plants of which we have been speaking; Crinum being more nearly related to Pancratium than to Amaryllis.