Sunday, 1 December 2013

Haemanthus deformis

Haemanthus deformis
While hanging up some laundry to dry in the spare bedroom this morning, I noticed the sun was catching the inflorescence of my plant of Haemanthus deformis on the windowsill, so went for the camera.

The genus Haemanthus (Amaryllidaceae) comprises 22 species from South Africa, of which the pinkish-red flowered H. coccineus from the Cape is probably the best known. It was one of the earliest South African plants to be imported to Europe, early in the Seventeenth Century. H. albiflos is also quite commonly grown, as an almost indestructible houseplant, with white flowers in tight heads. According to Dee Snijman, in her book The Genus Haemanthus (1984), H. deformis has at times been confused with H. albiflos but they are quite distinct in many different ways, notably in the foliage. In H. albiflos the leaves are hard-textured and usually recurved, and 4-6 may be present at any time, whereas in H. deformis there are only two at any time. They are softer and firmly adpressed to the ground. In a pot this is challenging for them, so they do their best and mould themselves over the rim. The inflorescence appears from between the leaves in early winter, in its early stages being seemingly squeezed out  in a narrow wedge.

Numerous flowers are held between soft white bracts.
As with all Haemanthus the inflorescence is formed of a number of flowers held between bracts, which with the protruding stamens gives it the look of a shaving-brush. I think H. deformis is a very pretty plant and prefer it to the red-flowered ones I grow, now rather coarsely in leaf having flowered in September. It comes from the Eastern Cape and southern Kwa-Zulu Natal: this plant, given to me by a friend several years ago, was grown from seed collected near the coast in Eastern Cape. It just sits on the windowsill (greenhouse formerly), gets watered occasionally, and does its thing. Eventually the old leaves get ratty and die back, but the new pair has usually replaced them before they are completely withered.

 Haemanthus may not be the showiest of bulbs, and the large leaves of some can be inconvenient, but they are attractive and interesting and have a modest following - there's even a Facebook group devoted to them.

This year the scape has lengthened more than I've seen previously, showing how densely hairy it is.

2 comments:

  1. Amazing plant, flower and photos. I have the H. coccineus and the H. albiflos.
    Have you tried to get seeds from your plant? I woudn't mind one or two seeds.

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  2. Beautiful flower, great photos :) Haemanthus is very hard to remember. Did this flower have any easier name?
    Maybe you will be interested in flower pots in any versions. On www.designsondemand.co.uk you can create your own unique flower pot and they will produce it and send it to you.

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