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.|
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.|