Having spent the last hour trying unsuccessfully to start my essay on bioprospecting and biopiracy… and making about a dozen cups of tea, I’ve finally given up and decided to write abit about a plant that I saw growing in one of my neighbours front gardens. It had very dark purple stems with heads of large white flushed pink trumpet shaped flowers, the combination was remarkably striking. This was a mystery plant to me, the closest thing I could think of was the houseplants Hippeastrum (often called Amaryllis) but these are definitely not hardy. So after walking past these for several days and thinking how striking they were every time I started out on a google searching mission. My first instinct was to try Nereines, but none had the colour combination or flower shape. So next move was Amareines (a Amaryllis x Nereine) but again no luck. Eventually I tried Amaryllis, which is a monotypic genus, and much to my surprise there it was….. Amaryllis belladonna. I’m not sure which variety although i think it is probably ‘Purpurea Major’. Some of the varities are illustrated at ‘The African Garden’. This is hardy, and apparently fragrant although i didn’t notice this, but being a South African bulb does need well drained soils particularly during the winter months. I’m now planning on getting hold of some bulbs for next year and am just hoping they’re not as hard to get to flower as a lot of nereine varieties.
Mystery Plant no more October 29, 2008