the old Peruvian daffodil; was RE: Wintering Hymenocallis

Jim McKenney
Wed, 09 Nov 2005 12:18:44 PST
Fred Biasella wrote : "This is a rather old cultivar that I've been growing
for more than 20 years"

Fred, I really perked up when you said your Hymenocallis is "a rather old

When I was a kid the Hymenocallis most often seen in gardens was
Hymenocallis narcissiflora, presumably un-hybridized but in a form which
sometimes produced pentamerous rather than hexamerous flowers (i.e. flowers
with five parts rather than the expected six). This is the plant we old
timers knew as Peruvian daffodil, and good gardeners often accumulated it by
the bushel. 

As is so often the case with things we take for granted, this old cultivar
has disappeared from commerce (I'll be delighted if someone can demonstrate
otherwise). 'Sulfur Queen', xfestalis, xfestalis 'Zwanenburg' and 'Advance'
are now readily available, but does anyone offer the old Peruvian daffodil? 

Furthermore, now that I think about it, I never knew it to set seed. It's
probably an old garden clone, probably with an irregular chromosome count.
And that raises some questions: do any of our Hymenocallis experts know if
this plant has a name? By that I mean a cultivar name which uniquely
identifies this apparent clone. 

And does anyone grow Hymenocallis narcissiflora of wild origin which sets
viable seed? And if so, can you say if it and this old garden form differ? 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where some of my earliest
childhood garden memories concern the Peruvian daffodil.  

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