Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. Katharinae (first bloom cycle)

I was a bit surprised when a Scadoxus pushed through the soil last week.  I remember planting it 2 yrs ago and digging it up when it looked mushy and rotted a year later: I must’ve left some healthy rhizome behind. :)

Like so many plants in my garden, Scadoxus hails from tropical Africa.  There are 9 species in this genus of the Amaryllis family,  mine being S. multiflorus subspecies Katharinae.  Katharinae’s leaf bases overlap and press together to form a sheaf-like pseudostem that is sometimes purple spotted:

Scadoxus multiflorus subsp. Katherinae emerging flower and pseudostem, 6/11/14

Although other Scadoxus species don’t show true leaves until their flowers open, Katharinae’s thin, wavy leaves emerge with the stalk.  As it continues growing, a total of 9 leaves form a hosta-style rosette along the soil line.

The Scadoxus flowerhead is comprised of 200 individual flowers in a spherical umbel above the foliage. The tiny “florets” are coral/red with bright yellow anthers on protruding stamens.  The photo on the left was taken Sunday (6/15) and the one on the right, this morning.

When the flowers are spent, berries appear on the pedicel tips in a process like that of Iris domestica.  These decorative berries change from green to scarlet, remaining on the plant ’til spring when they shrivel and dry out. At this point, any remaining pulp can be rubbed away to harvest the soft, fleshy seeds within.

S. multiflorus Katharinae should be planted in shade for optimal growth and appearance; too much sun can burn the thin leaves.  The entire genus is toxic to humans/small animals so plant with caution if your children are young.

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Until next time….

:) :) :)

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