Ask anyone if they got a Hippeastrum over the Christmas holidays, and most — whether or not they have one — wouldn’t have a clue as to what you’re referring to. That’s because these beautiful cultivars, natives of South America, are known by the name Amaryllis. (“Oh, yes! We had a red one — gorgeous!”)
Mine, a gift from Friend of the Herbarium Stephen Smith, is blooming now in mid-February and doing a super job of chasing away any wintertime blues that might creep in. We have about three to four inches of snow on the ground, driving’s hazardous, and temperatures are well below freezing — all good reasons to stay inside and admire my beautiful “Amaryllis”!
The Amaryllis genus is one of those that had become polymorphic — an assortment of plant species that needed organizing. Plants that were once crowded into that genus are now classified in about 15 genera, including Hippeastrum. The Amaryllis genus is still around and includes jonquils, which are native to Africa and soon to bloom in our lawns and gardens. A hardy bunch, the jonquils around Sewanee have sprouted and are about 4″ tall now. Here stand a few clumps, covered in yesterday’s snowfall.