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The Amaryllis Family: Genus Boophone

The genus Boophone 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.

This genus is most closely related to Crinum and Brunsvigia, and their close relatives.

There are only two species in the genus:

disticha (L.f.) Herb.
   Distribution: Sudan to South Africa
   Winter-growing for the most part, but there are summer-growing populations in summer-rainfall areas
haemanthoides F.M.Leight.
   Distribution: Namibia to Western Cape Province


I have found this genus very difficult to maintain in my greenhouse here in Indiana. They need more sun in winter than we have, and probably suffer in our hot, humid summer weather, even when kept dry.

They probably prefer growing in large pots if they are not over-watered.

Feed with a dilute soluble fertilize when the plant is in active growth. This is usually from late autumn or early winter onwards. In late spring, stop feeding. In summer, reduce watering or cease watering completely.

Not frost-hardy, so protect from freezing.

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: 16 February 2013
© Copyright 2013 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.