Brunsvigia multiflora alba

Jim Lykos
Tue, 14 Jan 2003 05:53:14 PST
Hi  Hamish,

I  dont know if your enquiry about Brunsvigia multiflora alba was  answered.  This is one of the names given to the white colour form of the first  outstanding Amaryllis and Brunsvigia hybrid grown in cultivation-  It  was first  flowered at Camden Australia in 1847.  This is one of a number of Amaryllid  hybrids made by  one of William Dean Herberts assistants - John Crane Bidwell, when he was employed as a botanist/horticulturalist   by W.  MacArthur at his Camden Park Estate (near Sydney Australia) plant nursery during 1841.

W. MacArthur had  a huge collection of  South African bulbs and  Bidwell wrote an article in 1850 describing  the Amaryllid hybrids that he made in 1841.    The most promising cross was made using  the outstandingly beautiful Amaryllis blanda (now lost)  and a Brunsvigia multiflora (orientalis) - this cross was made both ways.  Other crosses were made using B. josephinea and other forms of  amaryllis belladonna. However,  the  Amaryllis blanda which  MacArthur obtained during the 1830's  either from  Kew or Loddigies,  is now understood to have been  a natural Amaryllis  hybrid.    I suspect it was a natural Amaryllis belladonna  and   Cybistetes longifolia hybrid. But we will not know until someone raises plants of this cross.  Alternatively, A. blanda  could have  Brunsvigia grandiflora in its parentage -  I mention this as a possibility from seeing  a watercolour of the first Amaryllis blanda x B multiflora  plant to flower at Camden Park Estate.

There were a number of  colour forms raised from the amaryllis blanda parent - including an alba form.   In time these came to be known as the Multiflora hybrids (from the use of Brunsvigia multiflora), but numerous alternative names were applied to these hybrids by nurseryman and the subsequent progeny raised by  Australian Bulb breeders. However, by the 1930's most Australia  bulb nurseries were calling these large Amaryllis  hybrids - Brunsvigia multiflora "alba" or "rosea" and some varieties also carried  the Brunsvigia multiflora label including "Hathor","Intermedia", "Harbord", "Beacon", "Orvieto" and "Pallida". During the 1950's Les Hannibal  in the USA received  bulbs  from Australia of  the hybrids where  the   Brunsvigia multiflora was the seed parent. These differ in many ways from those with Amaryllis blanda as the seed parent. However, it was Les Hannibal who really popularised and  first developed outstanding results in this line of Amarygia hybrids in the USA.    


Jim Lykos 

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