Sprekelia? Hippeastrum?

Robert-E. Brasseur r.e.brasseur@scarlet.be
Thu, 26 Feb 2009 01:49:07 PST
My name is Robert-Emmanuel Brasseur (Robert). I live as a retired civil servant in Leuven, near Brussels in Belgium. I spent much of my professional life in the tropics of Africa and Asia within de framework of rural development projects. For hobbies I combine gardening, field botanny and ornithology with music.

Last winter I bought a bulb in a flower shop in Ghent (Belgium). After a few weeks the stem gave two flowers. The colour however did not fit with the picture fixed in the pot which looked like some Sprekelia formosissima. The bulb made one stem with two flowers. The colour however was not like on the picture. Instead it was variegated deep purple/brown and green. I was puzzled but had no time to make any enquiry then. After the flowering I repotted the bulb in a 20cm pot filled with acid chestnut forest soil. After keeping it till mid-june in the conservatory (there are daffodil flies around) I set the pot out in the garden. In october I put it back in the conservatory and gave it a dry rest period at temperatures of 7 to10°C. Early in January I brought it in-house (18 - 21°C) and watered it. This time two stems appeared with three flowers each. Diameter of the bulb: 7.5cm; length of the stem: 85cm (light conditions in the house are not so good); diameter of the flowers: 15cm. Considering the flowers' shape and specifically the funnel-like narrowing of the three lower petals I suspected the plant to be closely related to Sprekelia.

After receiving a tip that it could be a Hippeastrum papilio I checked Google and found following site. 


The picture very much correspond with that of my plant. On other sites I found however other pictures of so-called Hippeastrum papilio that present Hippeastrum features such as broad petals. Did the few butterfly bulbs have such rich genetic potential on their own or is it this huge variation in features the result of (un)controled hybridization? If so the question is: which were the shape and colour pattern of the original Hippeastrum papilio found in Brasil's southern Atlantic Forest. 

Thanks in advance for your comments,

Robert-E. Brasseur

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