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The Amaryllis Family: Genus Ammocharis

The genus Ammocharis in the Amaryllis Family (Amaryllidaceae) is endemic to Africa. They are herbaceous perennials growing from a true bulb. The flowers are borne in an umbel, a cluster at the top of the peduncle or stalk.

Ammocharis is closely related to Crinum. Like Crinum, it has fleshy seeds that do not go dormant ("recalcitrant"). For two species of Ammocharis, the seeds appear to be dispersed by wind.


There are several species in the genus:

   Not in cultivation as far as I know.
   Distribution: Africa, Uganda and Tanzania to Angola.
   Syn., Crinum baumii
   Summer growing, small species.
   Distribution: Southern Tropical Africa to Namibia.
   Ammocharis coranica (c) copyright 2013 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
   Summer growing or opportunistic.
   Distribution: Southern Africa, widespread in summer-rainfall areas.
   Closely related to A. longifolia. Infructescence: seeds probably dispersed by wind.
   Not in cultivation as far as I know.
   Distribution: Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia.
   Syn., Cybistetes longifolia
   Leaves straight and erect. Infructescence: seeds dispersed by wind.
   Winter growing.
   Distribution: Southern Namibia and the western areas of South Africa.
   Ammocharis nerinoides (c) copyright 2013 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
   Syn., Crinum nerinoides
   Summer growing (probably), dwarf species.
   Distribution: Namibia.
   Ammocharis tineana (c) copyright 2013 by James E. Shields.  All rights reserved.
   Summer growing (probably).
   Distribution: Ethiopia southward and westward to Botswana and Namibia.

Checklist of the genus Ammocharis.


These plants can grow in partial shade to full sun.

They seem to prefer growing in large pots; I have most of mine in 8-inch or 10-inch round plastic pots planted in a gritty mix.

Feed with a dilute soluble fertilize when the plant is in active growth. This depends on the species. For summer-growing and opportunistic plants, this will be from late winter or early spring onwards. In late summer, stop feeding. In winter, reduce watering or cease watering completely.

For winter-growing species, grow in protected spot away from frost. Water from early autumn on until growth slows or stops in Spring.

Not frost-hardy, so protect from freezing.


Most of the information here is from:
D.A. Snijman and H. Kollberg, "Ammocharis deserticola (Amaryllideae) A New Species from Namibia and a Key to the Genus." BOTHALIA vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 308-311 (2011).

Other Sources of Information

Bjørnstad, I.N & Friis, I. (Friis, I. & Nordal, I.)1972-1976. Studies on the genus Haemanthus L. (Amaryllidaceae) I--IV. Norw. J. Bot. 19: 187--206; 19: 207--222; 21: 243--275; 23: 63--77. The last reference providing keys to the species, list of synonyms, and necessary combinations.
Bulbous Plants of Southern Africa, Neil du Plessis and Graham Duncan, Tafelberg Pub. Ltd., Cape Town (1989).
Bulbs for Warm Climates, Thad M. Howard, University of Texas Press, Austin (2001).
Bulbs, Revised Edition, John E. Bryan, Timber Press, Portland (2002).
Cape Bulbs, Richard L. Doutt, Timber Press, Portland, Portland (1994).
RHS Manual of Bulbs, John Bryan and Mark Griffiths, Eds., Timber Press, Portland (1995).
The Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs, John Manning, Peter Goldblatt, and Dee Snijman, Timber Press, Portland (2002).

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For information about this account, contact:
James E. Shields,
Last revised: 22 July 2013
© Copyright 2013 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.