Brunsvigia multiflora alba
Tue, 14 Jan 2003 09:12:10 PST

Thank you for your excellent explanation of the history of this group (commonly known here as "Amaryllis belladonna hybrids").

I have not seen the original article by Bidwell, but Hannibal indicated that the original hybrids (A. belladonna x B. orientalis or x B. josephinae) were described by Bidwell as having glaucous foliage and bearing neither seed nor pollen.  The colors were listed, sounding just like what we grow today (but without mention of white), and the line drawing taking from that article also looks like what we have now.  Hannibal said that by the 1880's they were being mass-produced commercially in Australia from seed.

So my question has always been, how did we get from something (in the 1850's)  that looked, at least in the flower, like what we have today, but had glaucous leaves and was sterile, to something that in the 1880's was easily propagated by seed?  All that I have seen now have the same glossy, shiny green foliage of the typical A. belladonna, and bear seeds literally by the bucketful.

I have noticed in the foliage of these, that they almost invariably are vastly more susceptible to leaf scorch (Stagonospora) than the original A. belladonna. 

The other significant difference is that they are definitely less drought-resistant than the original type, which we see blooming in abundance along roadsides and in other places where the only water they get is during the winter and spring rainfall season (none whatsoever in the summer here).  While the hybrids will certainly survive under such conditions, they will flower sparsely and erraticly.  But if put in a garden along with everything else where they are watered frequently all year, they perform splendidly.  (In the open field I try to give mine water once a month during the dry period.)

This behavior would suggest an ancestor that got more water in the summer than the original A. belladonna would. 

Yet on the other hand a far greater susceptibility to leaf disease would suggest a drier climate (at least in the winter)!

So perhaps one that is drier in the winter but does have some summer rainfall as well????

Best wishes,

Bill the Bulb Baron

William R.P. Welch
P.O. Box 1736
(UPS: 264 West Carmel Valley Road)
Carmel Valley, CA 93924-1736, USA
Phone/fax (831) 659-3830

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