Illustration of the Sexual System of the Genera Plantarum (1779)
Johann Sebastian Müller (1715-1790?)
(John Miller)

This work was first published (folio) in 1777*. It represents specimens of the various genera established by Linnaeus in his Genera Plantarum. For the genus Amaryllis, Müller chose the Cape Belladonna of South Africa. He wrote "The common name BELLADONNA — is a native of the Caribbee islands, Barbados and Surinam. Sp. Pl." Everything after the hyphen is incorrect for this species.

The confusion goes back to Philip Miller's comment in Figures ... (1755-1760), that the Cape Belladonna "is said to be gathered by Sir Hans Sloane, in the Island of Barbados." It was not, of course, because Sloane (1707) wrote, "The Stalk rises from the leaves, being one foot and a half high, hollow...". The stalk of the Cape Belladonna is solid.

Müller (John Miller) did some work for Philip Miller (no relation) at the Chelsea Physick garden, and contributed to Miller's Gardeners Dictionary of 1768. In that work, the common name "Belladonna lily" was assigned to Amaryllis reginae, in agreement with Linnaeus, Species Plantarum second edition, 1762.

The plate shown at top is copied from Sealy (1939), and is not the plate found in the 1779 edition (below). I have not yet seen the earlier edition. The plate clearly shows that the petals are not bent at the base ("nec ad ungues recurvatis") in agreement with Linnaeus's description of Amaryllis reginae.

There has been some confusion between John Miller (Johann Müller) and Philip Miller, the famous gardener of Chelsea. In fact, the only surviving portrait of Philip Miller turned out to be a self-portrait of John Miller.

*Illustration of the Sexual System of the Genera Plantarum of Linnaeus, 1757-1777, 20 Nos., £1 each, making 2 vols. imp. fol.: in Latin and English.