Phycella or Rhodophiala

Alberto Castillo
Sat, 04 Jan 2003 05:04:58 PST
Hi Cathy et al: 

The « Phycella hybrids" images are all of Chilean Rhodophiala species :I hope they are not the result of just another plundering expedition. The only flower that with a stretching of the imagination could be mistaken for a Phycella is the rose colored uppermost right one. Phycella flowers are always tubular with the tepals tips slightly spreading and at times with the stigma protruding. They are beautiful in some forms. For me they have proved not easy resenting our humid conditions strongly. It is doubtful there are seven species of them: some are Ravenna's "species" and may even be color forms. He made a separate genus with some of them (Famatina) that no one accepts as valid now. The information that they should be grown like Hippeastrum is all wrong. A few species like bicolor and magnifica  inhabits the low coast lands of Chile and are winter growers enjoying similar conditions to Cape bulbs with a very dry long summer. Others are high altitude species like herbertiana, the best known, and this spends the winter under snow and makes all its growth in a short season before the summer brings complete drought. Years ago the Dutch collected material for researching into their commercial possibilities in the wild in Chile and I remember they had difficulty in telling Phycella from Rhodophiala . Perhaps this misnaming came from that time. As for Rhodophialas, there are a good number of color forms in Chilean species. These are not the easiest to grow but some are stunning. Some like bagnoldi demands hot conditions while other must be quite hardy, depending on their origin. Bifida is the easiest and there are a number of color forms including white. BUT, it takes eight years to reach flowering size from seed. 

Kind regards Alberto

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