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Products > Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae
Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae - Blood Lily
Image of Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Amaryllidaceae (Onions)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Haemanthus katherinae]
Height: 1-3 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: >32 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae (Blood Lily) - This tender bulbous evergreen rhizomatous perennial in the Amaryllis family has large broad lance-shaped bright green leaves with distinct midribs and wavy margins. The new leaves push in spring above a whitish bulb spotted with maroon (giving this plant its common name of blood lily). In late spring emerge the showy large globular heads (umbels) of many (up to 200) small salmon red to burnt orange flowers that rise up on a sturdy stock to 1 to 2 feet tall.

Plant in light shade and irrigate regularly once the new leaves emerge until flowering is finished - then allow to dry out. Although this plant is dormant from autumn through winter and usually recommended for seasonal container gardening, it will overwinter in the ground in frost free locations. If kept in a container protect from frost and water sparingly during dormancy.

Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae is native to the mediterranean climate forest, scrub and woodland areas in eastern southern Africa in the Cape Province and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and in Swaziland, Mpumalanga, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The name given to the genus by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1838 is an interesting combination translating into Latin as "umbella gloriosa" or "glorious umbel" with 'sca' as a prefix from that means "obscure" but possibly intended to be from the Greek word 'skia' meaning "shade" ('sciadon' being the Greek word equivalent of the Latin "umbella" or "umbrella") and the Greek word 'doxus' meaning "glory". This has been interpreted as a reference to the umbels of scarlet flowers of plants in the genus. The specific epithet is the Latin word meaning "many flowered" and the subspecies epithet honors Katharine Saunders (18241901), a well-known British born botanical artist who painted many South African plants after moving there in 1854. Other common names for this plant are Fireball Lily, Katharine Wheel and Poison Root, which references the poisonous nature of the plant. While the plant is also used in traditional medicine and birds are known to eat its fruit, it is noted that the bulb and the foliage have alkaloids that are highly toxic and their indiscriminate use is potentially lethal - in other words do not allow anyone (or their pets) to eat this plant and contact a hospital should they do so!

This plant long went by the name Haemanthus katherinae but the genus was split to differentiate the two evolutionary lines represented by these two genera. The differences are several including that Haemanthus is more typically bulb-like, dividing into twin parts while Scadoxus increases by rhizomes attached to the bulb plate. The foliage of the two genera is also quite different; Haemanthus foliage is more succulent, sometimes has a pubescence and lacks the distinct central vein that Scadoxus has. Our original plants came from the collection of Walter Rosenthall, who grew his collection up from 1 plant he purchased in 1959 at a Santa Maria nursery and we grew these plants from 2002 until 2007. Our later plants are seed grown from seed supplied by local horticulturist Trina Gault. 

This information about Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.