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Haemanthus coccineus

This species is found widely distributed in the winter-rainfall area of South Africa, in the Western Cape Province and north into Namibia, and east beyond Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province as far as the Keiskamma river valley. It can be somewhat variable, covering such an extensive range.

Haemanthus coccineus (c) copyright 2002 by Douglas Westfall
                                           © Copyright 2002 by Doug Westfall; all rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.

It blooms in late summer to early autumn; the inflorescence is coral to scarlet, with spathe valves erect. The plant is deciduous, winter growing but sometimes leafs out in late summer. The two or rarely three leaves, with red or dark green striations on the undersides at the base, are strap-like to elliptical in shape, never wider than they are long; recurving, only rarely prostrate.

Rhoda McMaster writes:

"The most easterly occurence of H. coccineus (which flowers in autumn) that we know of is in the Keiskamma River valley, growing amongst the dwarf H. albiflos (which flower in winter, so they don't hybridize). They occur from here in a summer rainfall region, through the winter rainfall region of the W. Cape and up to the arid regions of Namaqualand and Namibia, a range of 2000+ kilometers! The flower stems can be reddish, or blotched with red; and the leaves have varying degrees of stripes on the underside especially."

The bulb is compressed laterally. The tunics are distichous, with margins oblique. The bulbs can get quite large, up to 6 inches across.

Haemanthus coccineus bulb (c)
Haemanthus coccineus Bredasdorp
Accession #897.A

My thanks to Rhoda and Cameron McMaster for their comments and to Doug Westfall for the great picture.

D. Snijman (1984) "A Revision of The Genus Haemanthus L. (Amaryllidaceae)" Journal of South African Botany, Suppl. vol. 12. Trustees of the National Botanic Gardens of South Africa, publishers.

Other Sources of Information

Return to Amaryllis Family page Return to Bulbs Home Page Return to List of Genera

For information about this account, contact:
James E. Shields,

Last updated 13 February 2013
© Copyright 2013 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.