History of the Amaryllis Flower


In Greek lore, the amaryllis flower is named for a shepherdess whose love for a gardener was unrequited. Endeavoring to impress Alteo, Amaryllis walked the path to his door for one month, piercing her own heart each day with a golden arrow. The blood flowing from Amaryllis' heart created beautiful flowers blooming in scarlet hues along the pathway.


"Amaryllis" means sparkling in Greek. Referring to its large star shape, "Hippeastrum," or horse star, is the scientific name for this blossom. The brilliant red amaryllis flower symbolizes radiant beauty.


Some amaryllis flowers flourish in a variety of hues, including blazing red, vivid pink, and orange, while others grow in pure white and soft shades of salmon, pink, and rose.


It's not known precisely when the amaryllis was discovered. Some accounts say it was introduced to Europe in the late 17th century and that, in North America, Thomas Jefferson mentioned the flower in his writings as early as 1811. Another account says that in 1828, German physician Eduard Friedrich Poeppig discovered the amaryllis flowers--big blossoms shaped like trumpets atop thick, elongated, and leafless stalks--while searching for plants on an expedition in Chile.


Although native to South America, with some species originating in South Africa, the amaryllis blossom grows in profusion on the island of Barbados. This bloom is sometimes called Barbados Lily because of its close resemblance to the lily and is also a relative of the daffodil.


The amaryllis bulb's claim to fame is its ability to bloom for up to 75 years, proof of the determination and pride that this flower has come to symbolize.


  • "University of Florida: Amaryllis"
  • "Union County College: Amaryllis"
  • "Frugalista Gardener: Amaryllis"

Who Can Help

  • "Floral Design Institute: Amaryllis"
  • "teleflora.com:The Meaning & Symbolism of Amaryllis"
  • "flowermeaning.org: The Meaning of Flowers"
Keywords: amaryllis flower, amaryllis bulb, Barbados Lily

About this Author

Michelle Fortunato has been a freelance writer since 1995. Her work has appeared in "Guide," "The Family Digest," "Leaves," "My Walk with Jesus" and online at History's Women. She holds certificates in writing from the Institute of Children's Literature.

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