Amaryllis SarniensisGuernsey Amaryllis
- Class and Order
- Hexandria Monogynia
- Generic Character
- Cor. hexapetaloidea irregularis. Filamenta fauci tubi inserta declinata inæqualia proportione vel directione. Linn. fil. Ait. Kew. p. 415.
- Specific Character and Synonyms
- AMARYLLIS sarniensis, petalis linearibus planis, staminibus pistilloque rectiusculis corolla longioribus, stigmatibus partitis revolutis. Linn. fil. Ait. Kew. v. 1. p. 420. Thunb. Jap. p. 131.
- LILIUM sarniense. Dougl. Monogr. t. 1, 2.
- NARCISSUS japonicus rutilo flore. Corn. Canad. Kæmpf. Amæn. p. 872.
The Guernsey Lily, as it is most commonly called, is originally a native of Japan; where it is described to grow by Kæmpfer and Thunberg, who visited that island, the latter says on the hills about Nagasaki, from thence roots are said to have been introduced to the garden of Johannes Morinus at Paris, in which it flowered, October 1634: its introduction to this country, which was subsequent to that date, as Dr. Douglass relates in his Monographia on this plant, "happened by a very singular melancholy accident, of which Dr. Morison, who no doubt had it from some persons then residing in Guernsey, gives us the following account: A Dutch or English ship, it is uncertain which, coming from Japan, with some of the roots of this flower on board, was cast away on the island of Guernsey; the roots were thrown upon a sandy shore, and so by the force of the winds and waves, were soon buried in sand; there they remained for some years, and afterwards, to the great surprise and admiration of the inhabitants, the flowers appeared in all their pomp and beauty." Some of these soon made their appearance in this country: Mr. Aiton relates, that the plant was cultivated here in 1659, by General Lambert, at Wimbledon.
Fatal as Guernsey proved to the unfortunate mariners, it afforded the roots of our plant a soil and situation apparently congenial to their own; in that island they have flourished ever since, there they are propagated in the open borders of the flower-garden with the least possible trouble, flowering most readily, but we believe never producing any ripe seeds; from thence most of the roots which flower with the curious here, are yearly imported in the Autumn.
In Guernsey, the cold of the Winter is far less intense than with us; many of those plants which we keep in our greenhouses, stand with them in the open ground; the superior mildness of the climate enables them to cultivate this plant with more success than we can do, even perhaps with all the expence and trouble to which we might subject ourselves; to such, however, whose situations may be favourable, and who may be fond of making experiments, we recommend the perusal of Fairchild's Directions, a practical Gardener of great ingenuity, and who appears to have had much experience in the culture of this plant[A].
It is usual to plant the imported bulbs in pots of sand, or light loam, as soon as they arrive, and place them in the parlour window, or greenhouse; they blossom in September and October; the flowers, which continue about a month in perfection, are inodorous, but make up for that deficiency by the superior splendour of their colours: Dr. Douglass thus describes them, each flower when in its prime looks like a fine gold tissue wrought on a rose-coloured ground, but when it begins to fade and decay, it looks more like a silver tissue, or what they call a pink colour: when we look upon the flower in full sun-shine, each leaf appears to be studded with thousands of little diamonds, sparkling and glittering with a most surprising and agreeable lustre; but if we view the same by candle-light, these numerous specks or spangles look more like fine gold dust.
Both Kæmpfer and Thunberg agree, that the Japanese regard the root as poisonous.