Botany

Plant Profiles Amaryllis Belladonna



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Amaryllis belladonna is native to the southwestern Cape of Africa and has been naturalized in the United States to Louisiana and the coast of California and is typically found in coastal biomes around the Pacific rim and Mediterranean. It is considered invasive in some of these areas. Originally cultivated by Dutch explorers, they have found a home world wide. Some reports have them growing far inland in southern California, in the Mojave Desert.

Commonly called naked lady, for the tall naked stem with pink or white flowers at the top. They bloom in summer and long strip like leaves appear after bloom. Other common names include belladonna lily, Jersey lily, naked lady amaryllis, Cape belladonna, true amaryllis, beladonna-do-cabo, lirio-beladona, kapamaryllis and March lily. The number of common names exemplifies how wide spread they are. The taxonomy is quite confusing, originally classified in the liliaceae or lily family and still can be, the current preferred placement is the amaryllidaceae family or true amaryllis, genus amaryllis, of which belladonna is the only known species with the possible exception of Amaryllis paradisicola, described here. All parts of the plant are toxic, but have been reported to have some medicinal value.

Amaryllis belladonna grows best in full PM sun in well-drained soils with a pH 6.1 to 7.8. Propagation is easy from division or seed. The bulbs should be planted in early summer even with soil surface and space 8-12 inches, 20 cm, apart. It grows to 18-24 inches and has large pink, rose, red or white flowers on tall naked stems in summer followed by leaves. Hardiness zone recommendations are hardy to USDA zone 7a; it is not good for indoor forcing.

There are many verities and hybrids of Amaryllis belladonna and some of them by breeder Les Hannibal are shown here

Another naked lady easily confused with Amaryllis belladonna is the Lycoris squamigera, with stem and flowers that look very similar. It comes from China. Also called magic lily, surprise lily, or resurrection lily. The Lycoris squamigera will grow in colder climes, to USDA zone 4 with mulch, and produces its leaves in the spring, before flowering not after it flowers as does A. belladonna. Lycoris squamigera is not toxic.

Hippeastrum is the common bulb grown indoors, it is tropical or sub tropical and is native to the Americas. Hippaestrum, Lycoris squarmigera, and Amaryllis belladonna are all called “amaryllis” and are so similar in growth characteristics that the botanist Linnaeus confused them when classifying them in 1753. Many nurseries call all of these plants amaryllis and one way to identify them when purchasing bulbs is to look at the USDA hardiness zone recommendations.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.hear.org/pier/species/amaryllis_belladonna.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Amaryllis+belladonna
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://herbaria4.herb.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/get_painter_common.pl?12964
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbslist/2006-October/oc9ha0m426ffltb9lun53j83a0.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/plantox/textResults.cfm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/ethnobot.pl?Amaryllis belladonna
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/AmaryllisTwo