Almost a belladonna, but not quite

The belladonna lily, Amaryllis belladonna L., is familiar in Australian gardens and also out on roadsides and other public places where it had been planted – or dumped – decades ago. The umbels of large pink flowers appear on unbranched leafless stems at the beginning of autumn.

It has been hybridised with Brunsvigia josephinae (Redouté) Ker Gawl. to produce F1 hybrids that are almost as large and spectacular as the Brunsvigia and are grouped under the name Amarygia tubergenii. They have cartwheel-shaped umbels of many relatively small flowers on longer pedicels.

There are also much more common hybrids, known as Amarygia parkeri (W.Watson)H.E.Moore. Roger Spencer suggested in the Horticultural Flora of South-Eastern Australia that these are actually hybrids with another South African amaryllid, Cybistetes longifolia (L.) Milne-Redh. & Schweick, but was reluctant to complicate the nomenclature further by adopting a new hybrid genus.

An average example of A. parkeri.

It is not easy to distinguish the original belladonna lily from this latter hybrid. The ‘pure’ belladonnas tend to have fewer (less than 13) and larger flowers, which are on even shorter pedicels than in A. parkeri. The various forms of Amarygia parkeri tend to have more flowers in a more symmetrical umbel, and like the Cybistetes they have a conspicuous yellow carotenoid pigment inside the perianth tube.

The acyanic cultivar A. parkeri ‘Hathor’ showing the yellow pigment.


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