Gardeners’ Chronicle 35(879): 298 (October 31, 1903)

James O'Brien

From Sir Chas. W. Strickland, Bart., Hildenley, Malton, Yorks, comes a flower of a handsome late-flowering Amaryllis or Hippeastrum, of which he says:"I am sending you a flower of a hybrid Hippeastrum, H. Ackermanni pulcherrimum crossed with H. reticulatum. The scape is only 6 inches high and bore five flowers." The perianth, which is funnel-shaped as in H. reticulatum, has the segments free nearly to the base, each segment being over 5 inches in length and 1 1/2 inch in width, the lower one rather the narrower. The base of the flower, or tubular part, is of greenish tint spotted with red; the blades of the segments white, tinged and veined with bright magenta-rose, the upper ones being the darkest. From the base of each segment there runs a white band bordered in the lower part by purplish-rose veining. Anther filaments and style of a reddish-rose tint; anthers whitish. It is one of the best of the late-flowering hybrids of H. reticulatum.

The Hippeastrum used is the Amaryllis reticulata of gardens, the evergreen warm-house species with short, dark-green leaves, having a broad white band down the middle, and fragrant white, rose-tinted and veined flowers. Botanically it is a singular plant, and in many of its characters comes near to the true Amaryllis Belladonna; its seeds, for example, being thicker and very sparingly winged when compared with other species. I used it for crossing thirty years ago, and since, and have noted some of its peculiarities. Used in crossing flowers of very different form and colour it invariably imparts its main characteristics and colour on the progeny. The greatest success I had with it was in crossing the, now probably extinct, finely-formed, salmon-rose spotted Hippeastrum pardinum, which appeared in the importation of the less beautiful purple spotted H. pardinum imported from Peru by Messrs. Veitch about 1860. This fine form refused to seed when self-pollinated or crossed with any other until I tried it with the seemingly hopeless H. reticulatum, when it produced fertile seeds, from which was raised H. O'Brieni and which closely maintained the fine form of H. pardinum, and its rose-coloured spotting, together with the veining and the white striped leaves of H. reticulatum. I also set with pollen of H. reticulatum a seed or two on the Blue Amaryllis. H. procerum, a plant of an entirely different section, but never reared a plant. With the exception of H. O'Brieni, there has been a strong family likeness between all the hybrids of H. reticulatum and that now flowered by Sir Chas. Strickland is the best departure in colour, though not nearly so much so as the parentage of the rich scarlet H. Ackermanni pulcherrimum would lead one to expect. These crosses are, however, again in being late-flowering, and it is probably on account of their little variation in colour and form which has prevented their being more worked.

In this section, too, with the strong tendency to be evergreen in H. reticulatum when crossed with deciduous species, or species which require a long, dry rest, in the progeny there a continual conflict between the two natures. The same applies to crosses with Hippeastrums of the thick-leaved Aulicum section, which resent vigorous drying off when crossed with deciduous species. While the bulbs are young and while the vigour can be maintained, the trouble is not very evident, but when they get any reverse they are not easily brought round again. This friction between the tendency to grow inherited from one side, and the desire to rest from the other, results in many Hippeastrums "slipping through the fingers" apparently in an unaccountable manner. With the strictly florists' varieties, crossed in and in for many years, however, something like immunity from this trouble is attained.