Tony Avent's comprehensive yet concise listing of the Lycoris genus

Tony Avent
Thu, 29 Aug 2019 18:01:46 PDT
Hi Lee, etal

Sorry for the slow reply.

Toward our goal of compiling all of the known information about lycoris taxonomy, we have come at the project from two angles:

  1.  We have accumulated a collection of 750 unique lycoris clones, which include all valid species and hybrids of known parentage from an array of breeders from Sam Caldwell forward. To date, we have flowered 550 of these clones and now have 7 years of data recording flowering times, leaf emergence time, height, fertility, and foliage tolerance to documented winter temperatures.
  2.  We have also created a spreadsheet listing all taxonomic papers published on the Genus Lycoris (excluding propagation and medicinal papers). So far, we have documented 230 such papers from 95 primary authors, published from 1888 (Sprenger) to the present.  So far, we have digital copies of 150 of these.

When we have completed the data entry from each research paper (DNA results, taxonomic conclusions, etc.), we will publish this compilation.  All of the taxonomic information in our lycoris gallery so far, is a summary of conclusions reached by the compilation of DNA research.

Regarding nothospecific names and their need.  Many of these names were already coined as species that were later determined by DNA research to be hybrids. These conclusion were compared with our field observations of plants from known crosses, and all align well.  A few newly named hybrid groups were coined by us to represent hybrid groups that have not been previously named.

Perhaps, it you only grow a few lycoris hybrids, these nothospecific (hybrid) names seem superfluous, but if you are trying to sort out the taxonomy and prepare a comparison of different hybrids, their need becomes quite evident.  For example, we grow 72 clones of L. x albiflora (radiata x aurea), 244 clones of L. x rosea (radiata x sprengeri), and 48 clones of L. x straminea (radiata x chinensis).  Good luck sorting that breadth of material without nothospecific names to help with categorization.

It is our hope to publish a monograph of the genus, Lycoris, when our research and data compilation is complete. This which will include any new nothospecific combinations that we have proposed.  For now, we welcome all constructive comments that get us to a better understanding of the genus, and please spread the word about this amazing group of plants.

I hope this helps.

Tony Avent
Juniper Level Botanic Garden<> and Plant Delights Nursery<>
Ph 919.772.4794/fx 919.772.4752
9241 Sauls Road, Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
USDA Zone 7b/Winter 0-5 F/Summer 95-105F
"Preserving, Studying, Propagating, and Sharing the World’s Flora”
Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery is THE Source for unique, rare and native perennial plants.

From: Lee Poulsen <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 2:19 AM
To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
Cc: Tony Avent <>
Subject: Re: Tony Avent's comprehensive yet concise listing of the Lycoris genus

I was perusing through some of the new selections of Lycoris recently offered by Plant Delights, when I noticed that a couple of varieties I ordered in the past now have different species or nothospecies names than what are on my labels. I looked further and noticed that some species were now listed as nothospecies (they put a × in front of the species name where there wasn’t one before). Then I noticed that there were a lot more synonyms than before. This caused me to recall that Tony Avent (of Plant Delights) answered a question about Lycoris hardiness with a rather extended reply describing all the different Lycoris species and nothospecies. I hunted it down and read it more carefully this time. And I realized it was a definitive listing of the current understanding of the Lycoris genus. I thought maybe it had been incorporated into the PBS wiki, but it has not. I then tried hunting for a more explanatory version of this list on the Plant Delights website but was unsuccessful.

So I would like (realizing one doesn’t always get what they want) some kind of real definitive list, all in one place, giving all this information, all the former names of what are now synonyms, the nothospecies' suspected or known parent species, and possibly some kind of more verbose descriptions, like the article Jim Waddick wrote that is referenced on the wiki, of each species and nothospecies (at least all the ones that have been available from Jim Waddick, Plant Delights, Telos Rare Bulbs, etc. for the past couple of decades).
And add in the information on Lycoris (×)haywardii being merely some form of of Lycoris sprengeri that I found hidden in a later post from Tony that I had previously not paid sufficient attention to until perusing his new Lycoris offerings. Maybe this information could be incorporated into the wiki.
Oh, and some references or links to the articles and DNA analyses that are alluded to below would be very nice, too.

And please add my thanks to Tony for this concise summary of so much information that he provided us almost a year ago, that I didn’t realize was so comprehensive!


> On Sep 12, 2018, at 1:47 PM, Tony Avent <><> wrote:
> Hi Jane;
> Hopefully this will help.
> Based on the extensive body of DNA research, and confirmed in our field trials, there are only 7 lycoris species, with 1 still tbd...a far cry from the 13-20 often cited.
> Two of the lycoris species have foliage that emerges in fall, and five have foliage that emerges in late winter/early spring. Because all lycoris are winter-growing, the foliage emergence times determines their ability to withstand winter cold. Areas with extremely cold temperatures in early fall that remains so all winter may actually delay foliage emergence, making the plant more winter hardy than in conditions with fluctuating winter temperatures.
> Those species with fall-emerging leaves are generally winter-hardy to Zone 7....some clones slightly more, some slightly less.
> Fall foliage (zone 7)
> Lycoris aurea
> Lycoris radiata
> Those species with spring-emerging leaves are generally winter-hardy to Zone 5, possibly colder
> Spring Foliage (Zone 5)
> Lycoris chinensis
> Lycoris longituba
> Lycoris sanguinea
> Lycoris shaanxiensis (virtually everything in commerce is x straminea) with fall foliage
> Lycoris sprengeri
> Tbd
> Lycoris guangxiensis
> All other lycoris are hybrids. Hybrids of two spring-leaf species retains the Zone 5 hardiness, but crosses of a spring-leaf and a fall-leaf species, always produces offspring with fall foliage, so the hardiness of these always reverts to Zone 7. In theory, crosses with two spring species and one fall species could delay leaf emergence enough to increase winter hardiness.
> Lycoris Hybrids
> Many of these names are long established, most originally published as species, which DNA has shown to be hybrids. Other names are unpublished and only used by us as working names for the hybrids we grow.
> Fall x Fall (Zone 7)
> Two species hybrids
> x albiflora (syn: L. elsiae) - aurea (fall) x radiata (fall)
> Spring x Spring (Zone 5)
> Two species hybrids
> x caldwellii - chinensis (spring) x longituba (spring)
> x chejuensis - chinensis (spring) x sanguinea (spring)
> x flavescens - chinensis (spring) x sanguinea (spring)
> x incarnata (same as x squamigera)
> x sprenguinea (unpublished) - sprengeri (spring) x sanguinea (spring)
> x sprengensis (unpublished) - sprengeri (spring) x chinensis (spring)
> x squamigera (same as elegans, incarnata) - - longituba (spring) x sprengeri (spring)
> Fall x Spring (Zone 7)
> Two species hybrids
> x chinaurea (unpublished)- aurea (fall) x chinensis (spring)
> x cinnabarina - aurea (fall) x sanguinea (spring)
> x rosea (same as jacksoniana) - radiata (fall) x sprengeri (spring)
> x sprengurea - aurea (fall x sprengeri (spring)
> x straminea (syn: houdyshelii) - radiata (fall) x chinensis (spring)
> x rubroaurantiaca - undetermined by DNA
> Three species hybrids (2 spring x 1 fall)
> x longitosea (unpublished) - longituba (spring) x sprengeri (spring) x radiata (fall)
> x roseguinea (unpublished) - radiata (fall) x sprengeri (spring) x sanguinea (spring)
> x rosensis (unpublished) - radiata (fall) x sprengeri (spring) x chinensis (spring)
> Three species hybrids (2 fall x 1 spring)
> x radichinaurea (unpublished) - radiata (fall) x aurea (fall) x chinensis (spring)
> x rosaurea (unpublished) - radiata (fall) x aurea (fall) x sprengeri (spring)
> Tony Avent
> Proprietor
> Juniper Level Botanic Garden<><> and Plant Delights Nursery<><>
> Ph 919.772.4794/fx 919.772.4752
> 9241 Sauls Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603 USA
> USDA Zone 7b/Winter 0-5 F/Summer 95-105F
> "Preserving, Studying, Propagating, and Sharing the World's Flora"
> [plant-delights-logo]
> Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery is THE Source for unique, rare and native perennial plants.
> This message and its contents are confidential. If you received this message in error, do not use or rely upon it. Instead, please inform the sender and then delete it. Thank you.

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