Plant Life 1955, Herbertia Edition p. 49
Search For New Amaryllis Breeding Stock
Ira S. Nelson
Professor of Horticulture
Southwestern Louisiana Institute, Lafayette

On August 1, 1954, I began an Amaryllis collecting trip which led me through Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia during the following three months. My main objective was the Bolivian Amaryllis species which Mrs. Donald V. Applegate had reported seeing near Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The recently organized Louisiana Society for Horticultural Research sponsored the trip as its first project. Mrs. U. B. Evans, President of this organization had already received samples of Bolivian Amaryllis from her daughter, Mrs. Applegate, so prospects of finding something good seemed assured.

By hedge-hopping down the South American continent, I was able to do some collecting enroute to Bolivia. Since the purpose of the trip was to bring back bulbs not already available to hybridizers, I took every opportunity to procure them whether from the wild or from cultivation.

Armed with a copy of "Amaryllidaceae: The Tribe Amarylleae" by Traub and Moldenke and an abundance of ignorance concerning how to find Amaryllis in South America, I landed at Panama City ready to begin my search. During the day and a half between planes I visited the botanical garden in the Canal Zone and commercial nurseries where I procured a few amaryllid bulbs.

The flight to Bogata over the lush tropical vegetation hardly prepared me for the cold arid climate of that capital city. It was here that I was really convinced that the torrid zone can be cold and that climate in it depends upon the altitude.

Dr. A. Durand, of the University of Bogata, briefed me on the Amaryllis of Colombia. His assistant Roberto Jaramillo went with me to La Florida, about thirty miles northwest of Bogata where we found what he tentatively identified as A. andreana. This has since been identified by Dr. Traub as Brunsvigia rosea and was therefore introduced from South Africa. It is a rather showy species of rose pink color which shades to near white in the throat. We found it growing near the mountain top on the grassy slopes exposed to full sun. The area is one of heavy rainfall and cool weather the year around. The soil consisted largely of decayed organic matter which was so completely decomposed that it was rather heavy. The altitude at this location is about 8,700 feet.

Attempts to collect Amaryllis in other parts of Columbia were unsuccessful. The Quito region in Ecuador likewise yielded nothing so I moved on to Lima, Peru, where Dr. Ramon Ferreyra of San Marcos University generously gave me bulbs of three unidentified species which he and others had collected. From here I flew to Cusco, Peru, and obtained two more unidentified Amaryllis species from Dr. Cecil Vargas of Cusco University.

While in the Cusco area I was able to procure A. forgetii at Limatambo. It had been grown there in cultivation for about 30 years.