Hippeastrum identity

Diana Chapman rarebulbs@suddenlink.net
Sun, 03 Jun 2018 08:19:29 PDT
I was recently contacted by someone who tells me he thinks the bulb I 
have identified as H. machupijchensis is probably H. cuzcoensis. He sent 
me photographs of both species to back this up, and if the photographs 
are correct, he is right.  I am not sure how to correct this problem, 
since I have been selling H. machupijchensis for some time now.  While I 
do feel that the person who contacted me is correct, and is expert in 
this area, I often gets e-mails saying 'it isn't' when I list a new 
bulb.  Who to believe when you can't back it up through the literature?

This does open the question, though, of how to properly identify 
Hippeastrums.  I spend a great deal of time double checking identities 
of the bulbs I sell, but without a proper reference to go to, it is very 
difficult.  I do not depend on photographs on the internet, firstly 
because you can't see enough detail, and secondly because there is a 
great deal of misinformation out there.  I have a complete set of 
Herbertia, but without an index it is a very slow trawl through the many 
issues to try to find what you are looking for (which might not even be 
there).  I have, therefore, had to rely on the identity given to me by 
the collector the bulbs have come from.  My H. machupijchesis bulbs came 
originally from Harry Hay in England (now deceased).  His reputation was 
excellent, although I don't believe he ever collected any of his 
material in the wild.  It is very easy for mistakes to become compounded 
when collectors trade material back and forth.  I would say that at 
least 20% of Hippeastrums I have received this way were not what they 
were supposed to be, some were species that are very commonly available, 
or even commercial hybrids.  There is, also, natural variation in a 
species. I have three different accessions of H. yungacensis, and they 
all look different, having different amounts of red in the petals, but I 
feel fairly confident they are all the true species.

I would much appreciate any input from Hippeastrum collectors.  I was 
very appreciative when this person not only sent me this information, 
but sent me photographs of the true species taken in habitat.

Diana Chapman
Telos Rare Bulbs
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