This marvelous creature is in full flower on our balcony at the moment with a second stem on the way in the next few weeks. I first came across this beauty during my time as head gardener at Bronte House. Starting the role in December of that year I had noticed Hippi bulbs through the Agapanthus border but it wasn’t until late winter the following year when they began erupting with flower that I first laid eyes on her.
I’m generally not a fan of big showy flowers like Hippeastrums but this species is different, naturally occurring and therefore unadulterated by pollen happy horticulturists breeding for more colour and bigger blooms.
For me it is the colour combination of deep maroon streaked through cream but suffused with apple green that I find most appealing. Green in the flower makes it look as though it’s still evolving, as if a green flower just discovered the power of colour to attract insect pollinators and is now busy flooding those veins with this new wonder substance. (Note – there is scientific fact to support my hyperbole.)
Hippeastrum papilio is from southern Brazil and it’s range is decreasing but the plant is becoming popular with gardeners. You will find a grower at your next rare plant fair.