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Products > Hippeastrum papilio
 
Hippeastrum papilio - Butterfly Amaryllis
   

 
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Amaryllidaceae (Onions)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Cream & Red
Bloomtime: Winter/Spring
Synonyms: [Amaryllis papilio]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Hippeastrum papilio (Butterfly Amaryllis) - A semi-evergreen clustering bulb with 2 foot long strap shaped fleshy leaves and in late winter through early spring bears amazing large (6 inches wide) flowers with 3 petals and 3 sepals (jointly referred to as the "tepals) that rise well above the foliage on thick stems. These flowers have pale cream petals with a chartreuse throat all delicately striped in maroon in such a beautiful combination it easy to see how this plant got its common name Butterfly Amaryllis. After flowering it will form large seed pods which can produce viable seed that comes true to the species if the flowers are pollinated and at this time older leaves drop but younger leaves remain and new ones quickly grow so the plant remains evergreen in near frost free climates. Can tolerate near full sun in cooler coastal areas but best in part day (morning) sun or light shade and tolerates fairly deep shade at the expense of flowering. Seems best in clay containers in a well-drained mix and left undisturbed for several years with newly potted plants sometimes not blooming for a season. Evergreen through light frosts and short duration temperatures in the high 20s°F and considered root hardy with protection down to 10 °F (USDA Zone 8a). It is a great potted or garden specimen in mild coastal California and great as an indoor flowering plant in more temperate climates. Use care to keep slugs and snails controlled as they will mar this plants attractive foliage. This plant is a natural species to tropical forests of the Atlantic Coast of southern Brazil, where it is considered to be endangered due to habit loss. It was in fact considered extinct in the wild until the late Fred Meyer, California horticulturalist and plant breeder extraordinaire, spotted it growing epiphytically in tall trees in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in the early 1990s. The plant was first discovered in 1967 in a garden in state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, by Dr. Carlos A. Gómez Rupple, an Argentine plant collector and described and named Amaryllis papilio by the Chilean botanist Pedro Félix (Pierfelice) Ravenna in 1970. The name Hippeastrum, given to the genus by British botanist William Herbert comes from the Greek words 'hippeus' meaning a "knight" and 'astron' meaning a "star", though what Herbert meant by this is unclear - some suggest a resemblance of the flower to a knights mace-like weapon called the "morning star". The specific epithet "papilio" is the Latin word for butterfly and reportedly Ravenna named it for the similarity of the flower's inner tepals to the Swallowtail butterfly's tail wings. In 1997 the Dutch botanist Johan van Scheepen separated New World amaryllids (Amaryllidaceae) from African true Amaryllis and assigned the genus name Hippeastrum to the American species and thus this plant became Hippeastrum papilio. This plant received the prestigious Royal Horticulture Society's Award of Garden Merit in 2002. Our thanks go out to nursery friend Fred Meyer for first introducing us to this plant and to Kathy Echols of Midhill Farms in Martinez, California for giving us a robust specimen in 2012 that helped us build our stock on this beautiful plant.  The information on this page is based on research conducted about this plant in the San Marcos Growers library, from online sources, and from observations made of the crops growing in our nursery, plants in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we may have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Hippeastrum papilio.