Amaryllis selections from Les Hannibal MLH1-25
The late Les Hannibal was a longtime breeder of Amaryllis hybrids. Over a period of several decades, he tossed all of the excess seeds from his breeding program into the roughly one acre backyard of his home in Sacramento, California. The result was a sloping hill covered in many thousands of bulbs, scattered everywhere and even leaking into the neighbors' yards. When in bloom it was a remarkable sight, a kind of fairyland of bulbs. Shortly before his death, Mr. Hannibal permitted several people to collect bulbs from his yard. Thank you, Mr. Hannibal!
The numbers on these bulbs are just codes I use to identify them. The letters stand for my name, followed by LH to credit the guy who bred them. --Michael Mace
Why post so many photos? Because I think you need to see a lot of them to understand how they vary. These flowers are kind of like wine -- at first they all seem the same, but after a while, you start to spot the differences. There's a huge amount of variation in color schemes, flower shape, bud count, and other features. I think that means there's still a lot of room for breeding new and improved varieties. But I'll let you be the judge...
MLH 1-19 were collected in my first trip to Mr. Hannibal's place. I collected them while they were in bloom, and so I was able to number them in approximate color order, from white to dark pink. Photos of usually two different plants below the descriptions.
MLH 01 the whitest of all the whites I received. It has very little yellow in the throat. Unfortunately, it is not a reliable bloomer, and has a low bud count.
MLH 03 is a white that has a lot of yellow in the throat. Its flowers are also larger than average, and it's a pretty reliable bloomer. Unfortunately, the flowers all point to one side (I think they look nicer when the flowers are arranged radially, like the spokes on a wagon wheel).
MLH 04 is pure white, with a moderately yellow throat (not as dark as MLH 03). This selection is a very reliable bloomer, has a lot of buds, and is more radial than MLH 03. Unfortunately, its flowers are also a little smaller.
MLH 05 pictured in the second and third photograph below is hard to photograph. It's mostly white washed with a pale sugar-pink color. As you can see in the first photo, the anthers age to darker pink, but the color of the actual flower doesn't change much with age. This one blooms pretty reliably for me, but it has a low bud count and is not radial.
MLH 06 is a little pinker than MLH 05. Note the yellow throat of this one, compared to the white throat of MLH 05.
MLH 07 is pictured in the last two photos. Now we're getting to more pronounced pinks. This flower has medium-pink veins on the outer half of the petals, with a fairly well defined white star in the middle, and a yellow throat. The first photo shows the flowers backlit, which makes the pink look darker and the yellow throat really glows (these flowers are also older, and have aged to a darker and more solid pink). The second photo shows newly-opened flowers, in more usual lighting. You can really see the white star here.
MLH 08 (first photo) is another pink flower with a white center, but the petals are wider, and the pink color is quite strong at the edges of the petals. There's a newly opened flower at center, and at lower right is an older flower, which has aged to a uniform mid-pink color.
MLH 09 is pictured in the second photo. The color scheme of these flowers is nothing special, but look at the very high bud count, the huge number of flowers open at one time, and the radial structure of the flower head. When it bloomed in 2003, this thing looked like a huge pom-pom. In previous years I don't think the plant bloomed quite this vigorously (third photo), so I'm starting to suspect that bud count can vary some from season to season. The downside of all the flowers opening at once was that the plant was in bloom for only 1-2 weeks. Other varieties can bloom for 3+ weeks if they open only a few flowers at a time.
MLH 10 is much like MLH 08, but a little more darkening toward the ends of the petals. It does not have a good bud count.
MLH 11 is starting to show a distinct dark pink stripe toward the middle of the petal tip. You wonder if continued breeding could create strongly striped flowers.
MLH 12 (first photo) has flowers that are more uniformly pink, although there's still a white center. Note that the veins are fairly indistinct here.
MLH 14 (second and third photos) is about the closest you'll get to a striped Amaryllis in the ones I've seen, with a broad central stripe and veins around it. The flowers age to a more solid pink color, which you see in the third photo.
MLH 15 is another one that has pretty strong veins, but not nearly as striped as MLH 14.
MLH 17 is a good solid pink with a white center and yellow throat.
MLH 18 This is one of my favorites. It blooms early and very reliably, and is quite dark. It opens fairly dark pink with a white center, and ages to very dark pink with a dark center. The flower heads are fairly radial too, and have a good bud count. The main drawback of this one is that the flowers are somewhat small compared to other varieties. Because this is such a reliable bloomer, I've tried to make a lot of crosses with it. The pollen seems to work well when used other varieties, but it sets very few seeds when I cross others onto it.
MLH 19 is not quite as dark as MLH-18, but the flowers are very large and long, and have some ruffling to them. The flower head is not as radial as MLH-18; as you can see, the flowers all tend to point in one direction.
MLH 20 and numbers above came from my second trip to Mr. Hannibal's place. These were dug after bloom, so they're in no particular order.
MLH 20 is a very nice dark pink, with a yellow throat. These are newly opened flowers; they will age to an even darker shade. Low bud count, and not at all radial.
MLH 21 is mid-pink, with pretty strong veins
MLH 22 is one of the darkest pink varieties. The flower at lower right is newly opened. As you can see, it's already quite dark and solid in color, with a white flash in the throat. As it ages (upper left) the flowers becomes solid dark pink, with a little yellow left in the throat. If you squint and use your imagination, you might be able to convince yourself that the combination of pink and yellow in the center is starting to look like a genuine red color, but really it isn't. I have yet to see a true red in these flowers. Magenta, sure. Cherry pink, you bet. But no real red.
MLH 23 is an interesting mid-pink with a white center, it ages to almost white on the outside and darker pink in the center. This is unusual because normally the flowers get darker overall as they age. A more extreme example of this is MLH 34.
MLH 25 Ruffles! These flowers have a lot of ruffling to them. I can't decide if this is pretty or not, but it definitely is different. Look at the very dark color of the stem (it looks almost black in the photo). This is typical of flowers that have a lot of pink in them; the white flowers have green stems. This is not the most radial of plants -- if you look carefully, you can see that all of the flowers are facing in one direction.
MLH 26 is another mid-pink.