Lycoris squamigera vs Amaryllis beladonna

Leo A. Martin
Sat, 02 Aug 2014 14:09:20 PDT
Jim Waddick wrote

> I urge you to go to the PBS wiki and study the
> numerous photos of both species and as you get
> familiar with each you can easily tell which is which.
> Amaryllis…
> Lycoris…
> scroll to L. squamigera.

It is easy for me to tell the two apart. Amaryllis here is expensive, sold in good
nurseries, grows leaves reliably year after year, and blooms about once every 6-7 years
if the gardener is lucky. Lycoris squamigera is very expensive, not sold here, grows
leaves perhaps once or not at all, never blooms and disappears rapidly.

I went to the two referenced Wiki pages to look. The photos are beautiful. There is
nothing in the text on either page explaining the characteristics shown so well in the
photos. This is common on our Wiki.

I sometimes teach budding professionals things that are obvious to those in the know,
but not obvious to reasonably intelligent people who don't know what to notice. I find
much of our Wiki is written from the point of somebody who understands a fair amount of
botany. Many of the general public do not, and will not notice differences that are
obvious to some of us. It is very difficult to imagine oneself at the computer desk of a
person with little to no knowledge of botany, but that would be a good exercize for
those writing for the Wiki.

For example, though I essentially have no experience whatsoever with Lycoris squamigera,
and I am relying on the people who posted photos on our Wiki to have identified them
properly, I would write that the differences are:

Amaryllis beladonna has six medium pink (rarely, white) petals evenly spaced around the
tube so there are no gaps between petals. It has a long, white or pale pink central
pistil that bends down out of the throat of the flower, then curves upward towards the
tip. It has six stamens that spread somewhat far from the central pistil, each with a
large anther bearing dark yellow pollen. The stamens are noticeably shorter than the

Lycoris squamigera has six light pink (sometimes dark pink to white) petals spaced
unevenly, with a noticable gap at the bottom of the flower, so it looks like a seventh
or even eight petal is missing (though it is not.) It has a long, dark pink pistil that
bends down out of the throat of the flower, then curves upwards towards the tip. The six
anthers tend to cluster closer to the pistil than those of Amaryllis beladonna.

It might be good to have verbiage to this effect on the Wiki, but I don't believe I know
enough to be the person to write it. It would also be good to have a mention on both
pages that the plants have a strong resemblance to each other, but can be told apart
when one knows what to look at.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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