Lycoris straminea, houdyshellii, and L. elsiae

Tony Avent
Sat, 04 Sep 2010 08:43:40 PDT

I didn't have a good a grasp on my lack of grasp of these species until we
grew out so many in the ground.  The plants we got years ago from Chen Yi as
L. shaanxiensis were obviously L. x houdyshellii/straminea.  The main
difference in the key between L. straminea and x houdyshellii is the pink
tips to the styles.  When our Chen Yi plants flowered, they ran the gambit
from creamy white to yellow to yellow with a pink flush, to peachy pink.
Some had pink style tips while others did not. Many plants in this batch
were virtually identical to the L. straminea that we got from you...I seem
to recall these were from the Nanjing Botanic Garden. Others plants in this
batch are almost identical to the clone L. 'Blackcap Chitters', which is
obviously a L. x houdyshellii selection.

We also got plants years ago from Chen Bing, who was some relation to Chen
Yi, as L. shaanxiensis.  These turned out to all be a single clone of L.
straminea/x houdyshellii without the pink styles. I have yet to flower L. x
albiflora, but that seems like another species that may fit in this same
group of plants. I'll put together a gallery of the images in the near

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax  919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three
times" - Avent
-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of James Waddick
Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 9:56 AM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: Re: [pbs] Lycoris straminea, houdyshellii, and L. elsiae

>Lycoris folks:
>Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be virtually no difference
>between L. straminea, L. x houdyshellii, and L. elsiae.

Dear Tony and all,

	Well honestly , no.

	But I have limited success with 2 of these 3(4?). These 4 
species are all very close in the Kurita et al key : L. albiflora, x. 
houdyshelii, x straminea and x. elisae.

	As I understand it.........

A.	L. straminea flowers open straw tan. Maybe a dirty yellow. 
The tepals each have a thin pink mid-line and distinct small pink 
flecks. It gets about a foot high in bloom. It does not bloom here 
reliably Native to E. China 2N = 19
	It seems very distinct to me.

B.	L. xhoudyshellii has white flowers. I'd call it creamy to 
clear white. Although the foliage appears here regularly, flowers are 
scarce. It blooms later than straminea and closer to radiata bloom 
season.  Native to E. China 2N = 30

	It seems close to x albiflora to me at least according to the 
lit. Albiflora is native to Japan and both seem easily confused as a 
so-called L. radiata 'alba'.

C.	L. elisae . I have never grown this species (maybe), but it 
is the only species with salmon flowers. It is native to Japan. 2N = 
17. This may be the species illustrated on the wiki  as "A tangerine 
colored hybrid, possibly involving L. sanguinea" see:…	in 
which case I do grow it.

	But  at least these four do share a number of characters: 
Autumn foliage, exserted stamens, relative small stature.
	All  of these are in the subgenus Lycoris and  most are 
difficult for my climate except for the few with spring foliage that 
are in cultivation.

	L. shaanxiensis has been mentioned. As I understand this 
species, it is the northern most species (hardiest?), flowers are 
white. Spring foliage. Shaanxi Province, China. 2N= ? Although I have 
received a number of bulbs with this name, they have proved to be 
mis-identified  and or not hardy. It should be comparable to L. 
caldwellii , its potentially closest relative , which is very hardy 
and reliable here in Kansas City.  I have tried to get bulbs direct 
from Shaanxi Province without success.

	I suspect it is not in cultivation.

	Roh et al" Identification and Classification of the Genus 
Lycoris Using Molecular Markers" from 2002 is superseded in part by 
Shi et al "Phylogenetic relationships and possible Hybrid Origin of 
Lycoris Species (Amaryllidaceae) Revealed by ITS Sequences" (2006). A 
major problem with both is the lack of clear differentiation of the 
species to begin with and verification of species identities. Lycoris 
are especially difficult to work with because  floral characteristics 
may seem quite similar, but vegetative characters can be quite 
different, but separated by  a few to 6 months in time.
	Few people take all characters into account. I still weigh 
heavily to Kurita et al "Synopsis of the Genus Lycoris 
(Amaryllidaceae) 1994 even with major gaps.

	You have a distinctly rich potential for sorting these out by 
comparing the many plants in these plots carefully. The fact that 
these three seemingly different species all look the same suggest to 
me that 2 are possibly misidentified, even from multiple, 'reliable' 
sources. I do not consider myself reliable on any of these particular 
species. That also means that all of the above must be taken with 
ample qualifications, hedging and serious doubts.

	Very frustrating.

	So waddaya think?			Best Jim

Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

More information about the pbs mailing list