The Gardeners Chronicle. 84: 349 (Nov. 3, 1928)

Amaryllis blanda and its allied varieties and hybrids
Arthington Worsley

Belladonna ex parte

*R.H.S. Journal, January, 1926, p. 65.

Baker treated Amaryllis as a monotypic genus, and placed A. blanda as a variety of A. Belladonna, distinguished therefrom by its pseudo-stem, its longer and broader leaves, and larger, more expanded flowers. But Herbert considered that the genus was not monotypic, and included therein some Brunsvigias—such as B. Josephinae. His opinion receives support from the fact that five or more hybridists have succeeded in crossing Amaryllis with Brunsvigia.*

But if hybrids in this class have been raised in gardens, it is more than probable that similar hybrids have arisen fortuitously in the natural habitat of these bulbs in South Africa. Such hybrids would breed in again with their parents, and would produce a mixed race bearing some of the characters of Brunsdonna. This does take place in our gardens, where I have found that the pollen of A. Belladonna is strongly prepotent on the stigmas of Brunsdonnas.

We may presume that this has also occurred in the natural habitats of both these genera, and that, in the localities where the A. blanda type has been collected, some such person collected bulbs resembling in pseudo-stem and in their large, widely-expanded flowers our garden Brunsdonnas, and others collected bulbs which had sprung from back-crosses with A. Belladonna and only bore some resemblance to the original A. blanda of Bot. Mag. t. 1,450.

Experience of what has occurred since 1812, when A. blanda was figured in Bot. Mag., is confirmatory of this process. Having been lost to our gardens in Herbert's lifetime, it reappeared about 1882 as a seedling from one of his crosses. From the coloured figure in Paxton's Mag. of 1882 there can be no doubt that it was the same variety (or hybrid) as that figured in Bot. Mag. in 1812. But it is not certain if it was one of the Brunsdonnas raised by Herbert, although it was bought at his sale and was labelled "Hybrid."

+R.H.S. Journal, January, 1926, p. 67.

Having been again lost to cultivation, it reappeared this autumn as a self-fertilized seedling from Brunsdonna Parkeri, and was given an Award of Merit at the R.H.S. on September 11 under the name of Amaryllis (Brunsdonna) blanda. This occurred in my garden, and of the two seedlings which flowered the one not exhibited was similar, but did not carry such a fine scape. The parentage is, in this instance, beyond doubt, and may be traced back to the original B. Parkeri distributed by Mrs. Arbuckle in 1889.+

Fifteen years ago, I obtained some thirty Amaryllis bulbs said to have been "collected" at the Cape. Noticing that there were two distinct types among these dry bulbs, I planted a few of each type under glass and the rest out-of-doors. Those under glass were several years before they flowered, when they turned out to be a very tall, rather late form, near A. blanda, but not so widely expanded and without any special development of pseudo-stem. The remainder of the consignment turned out the be A. Belladonna pallida. On digging up those planted outside, the pallidas were alive and all the blanda types were dead. Hence, as Herbert said, we must class this type as being, in common with the Brunsdonnas, not hardy about London. I gave to this type near A. blanda the name A. pseudo-blanda. It has been figured in colour and an inflorescence added to the Hortus Siccus at Kew. For this reason, I add a short description. It is quite a good garden plant for inside cultivation, and distinct.

Although A. blanda has only made sporadic appearances in English gardens, various continental nurserymen have, from time to time, offered bulbs under this name. The late Mr. H. J. Elwes, who was determined to acquire the new A. blanda for his collection, obtained bulbs from every fresh nurseryman who listed it. On the whole, he was disappointed, for he never got what he wanted. But he obtained one unexpected treasure under this name—a large, robust, deep crimson Amaryllis which flowered freely. Messrs. Van Tubergen, junr., who obtained some bulbs from him about fifteen years properly re-christened it A. rubra major. (Not to be confused with A. belladonna var rubra figured in Flore des Serres, t. 1,415).

This is the finest of all outdoor Amaryllis, and although it is widely distinct from A. blanda in colour, it must be placed in the same section. (See Fig. 161 and description).

Some of its traits are that it bears the most pronounced pseudo-stem of any member of the genus, is only partly deciduous, and is very free-flowering whenever it gets a little extra warmth; 1928 has not been a good year for the flowering of Amaryllis out-of-doors, but, so early as September 4, nine out of ten of this variety were pushing up flower scapes outside at Kew. The late Mr. William Watson was full of admiration for this plant, and always declared that it was not a true Amaryllis, but was a form of B. Parkeri—i.e., it had some Brunsvigia blood in it. This may be proved by raising some generations from selfed seeds upon it, and comparing the variants with the progeny of selfed Brunsdonnas.

Now that Amaryllis and Brunsvigia have produced a garden race of hybrids and back-crosses, it will become increasingly difficult to apply any other test than garden merit to these plants. Some of the back crosses of Brunsdonna with A. Belladonna, which have originated by chance in my garden, are barely distinguishable from A. Belladonna. But, in general, the best garden types have both their leaves and the segments of their flowers twice as long and twice as wide as in the type of A. Belladonna, and have also twice as many flowers to the umbel. On these facts we may consider that the doubts which have clung for so long to "the lost A. blanda" have now been dissipated.

Amaryllis pseudo-blanda.

Amaryllis rubra major.