23 Feb 2011


‘… thou, Tityrus, stretched in the shadow, 
Teachest the woods to resound with
the name of the fair Amaryllis.’
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, translated from Virgil’s Eclogues

The amaryllis is a rather flashy flower that looks like a lily having slipped on some very stylish scarlet jewellery, hence its association with ladies with a taste for the theatrical, though it also carries the opposite meaning of ‘timidity’… a shy girl with a flair for drama? Hey, women are complicated! Its ravishing colour makes this flower a very appropriate present for a person just as splendidly beautiful. It is also an apt way of saying how proud you are of someone.

The amaryllis takes its name from a beautiful shepherdess from the pastoral works of Virgil, the ancient Roman poet—poems where graceful maidens and handsome youths frolic in serene forests and orchards. As well as being a rather romantic namesake, this also lends the amaryllis its meaning of ‘pastoral poetry’, that is, telling someone they are as eternally lovely as one of those fictional shepherdesses. 

Another name for this flower is Hippeastrum’, which is Latin for ‘Horseman’s Star’. Although the ‘Horseman’ part might be a little strange, the beautiful points of the amaryllis petals certainly bear an uncanny resemblance to a sparkling star. Speaking of celestial bodies, the amaryllis is also associated with the fiery, passionate zodiac sign, Aries.

-     Pastoral poetry
-     Sparkling
-     Splendid beauty
-     Timid
-     ‘I’m proud of you!’
    ‘You’re lovely.’

Origin: The amaryllis was discovered in the early 19th century in the Andean Mountains of Chile and Peru.

SeasonLate spring and early summer. However, because this type of flower is easily grown indoors, it is a very popular plant for brightening up a room in the winter.

Colour: White streaked with red, although it can be cultivated in other bright shades like pink, orange and yellow.

Author: Alethea Dean'

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