The amaryllis is a flowering bulb which originated in the subtropical regions of the Americas. Also known as belladonna and Naked Lady, its botanical name is Hippeastrum. Amaryllis blooms in warm seasons, producing stalks ranging from twelve to twenty-four inches tall. The stalks each have up to six flowers which can be red, pink, white or variegated.
The amaryllis was discovered in Peru in June of 1867. The flower captured the attention of florists because of its large, broad petals which, when fully open, display a symmetrical face. Further attractive qualities of Amaryllis are its deep, vibrant colors, and the well-defined star displayed at the center of certain species.
Of Greek origin, amaryllis means fresh or sparkling. Other meanings are pride, determination, splendid beauty, radiant beauty and worth beyond beauty.
The Greek story of Amaryllis reveals her as a shepherdess who loved a shepherd possessing the strength of Hercules, and the beauty of Apollo. He was called Alteo, and he loved only flowers. He desired a woman who would bring him a new flower. Amaryllis, in an effort to capture his love, appeared at Alteo’s door each night for thirty days, dressed in white. With each appearance she pierced her heart with a golden arrow. On her final appearance, Alteo at last opened his door to find a beautiful crimson flower, created from the blood of Amaryllis’s heart.
Amaryllis has many common names. In the UK it is called the belladonna lily. It is known as Naked Lady in the United States. March lily is its name in South Africa, and in Portugal the amaryllis is commonly referred to as St. Joseph’s Staff.
As a baby’s name
Although Amaryllis is not included in the top one thousand most popular baby names, it still is the chosen name for many an infant girl. Most often its meaning in this case is sparkling eyes. There are several variant forms of the name Amaryllis. Ama, Amarilla, and Amarillis are a sampling of a Polish and Latin variation.