Haemanthus albiflos

Haemanthus albiflos (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Liliopsida
Subclassis: Liliidae
Ordo: Asparagales
Familia: Amaryllidaceae
Tribus: Haemantheae
Genus: Haemanthus
Species: Haemanthus albiflos

Haemanthus albiflos

Haemanthus albiflos Jacq. is an evergreen South African bulbous geophyte belonging to the Amaryllidaceae and prized horticulturally for its unusual appearance and extreme tolerance of neglect. H. albiflos is the only Haemanthus species found in both winter and summer rainfall regions, and has a mainly coastal distribution from the southern Cape through the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, showing a preference for cool, shady spots. The upper half of the bulb is usually exposed and bright green. Since it produces a pair of leaves once a year and is evergreen, together with H. deformis and H. pauculifolius, the plant may have up to three pairs of leaves. Leaves may have a covering of short, soft hairs, and occasionally have yellow spots on the upper surface. It reproduces readily by adventitious buds or offsets, which may be removed when the flowering period, from early April to July, is over.

This is a very successful indoor plant where it is too tender to be grown outdoors, and thrives on "healthy neglect". It prefers not to be in full sun, but is very tolerant of under-watering, and flowers better if restricted in a small pot. Offsets can be separated carefully from the parent plant to be grown on, preferably when they are fairly well developed, and ensuring that there is some root on them. Fruits are only occasionally produced indoors, presumably for lack of pollinating insects, but when one does produce a seed, this can be sown, and should grow, though it is a slower process. With very little care, this plant can be propagated for many years.

H. albiflos's specific name means 'white flower' in Latin. As a pot plant it has been called "Elephant's tongue" - for its leaves - or "Shaving-brush (or paintbrush) plant" - for its flowers.


* Royal Horticultural Society

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