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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Asparagales

Familia: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamilia: Amaryllidoideae
Tribus: Haemantheae
Genus: Haemanthus
Species: H. albiflos – H. amarylloides – H. avasmontanus – H. barkerae – H. canaliculatus – H. carneus – H. coccineus – H. crispus – H. dasyphyllus – H. deformis – H. graniticus – H. humilis – H. lanceifolius – H. montanus – H. namaquensis – H. nortieri – H. pauculifolius – H. pubescens – H. pumilio – H. sanguineus – H. tristis – H. unifoliatus

Nothospecies: H. × clarkei

Haemanthus L. (1753)

Type species: H. coccineus L.


Diacles Salisb., Gen. Pl.: 130. 1866.
Type species: non design.
Gyaxis Salisb., Gen. Pl.: 131. 1866.
Type species: G. puniceus (L.) Salisb.
Melicho Salisb., Gen. Pl.: 130. 1866.
Type species: non design.
Leucodesmis Raf., Fl. Tellur. 4: 19. 1838.
Type species: L. pubescens (L.f.) Raf.
Perihema Raf., Fl. Tellur. 4: 20. 1838.
Type species: P. coarctata (Jacq.) Raf.
Serena Raf., Fl. Tellur. 4: 20. 1838.
Type species: non design.


The International Plant Names Index Haemanthus
Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 325.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Haemanthus 2014. Haemanthus in The Orders and Families of Monocotyledons. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2014 Oct. 30.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2019. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Haemanthus.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa
Regional: Southern Africa
Botswana, Cape Provinces, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Namibia, Northern Provinces, Swaziland.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Vernacular names
беларуская: Гемантус
български: Хемантус
Deutsch: Blutblumen
suomi: Tupsukit
հայերեն: Արյունաշուշան, արյունածաղիկ
polski: Krasnokwiat
svenska: Skärmliljesläktet
Türkçe: Kan çiçeği

Haemanthus is a Southern African genus of flowering plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae.[1] Members of the genus are known as blood lily and paintbrush lily. There are some 22 known species, native to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. About 15 species occur in the winter rainfall region of Namaqualand and the Western Cape, the remainder being found in the summer rainfall region, with one species Haemanthus albiflos occurring in both regions.


Most of the species have brush-like flowerheads enclosed in four or more membranous to fleshy spathe bracts which usually match the flower colour and, like sepals, protect the flowerheads from damage and desiccation. The flowers produce abundant nectar and pollen and a faint smell unattractive to humans. Fruits are mostly globose and when ripe, range through bright red, to pink, orange and white, and are usually aromatic. Three of the species, H. albiflos, H. deformis and H. pauculifolius are evergreen; these three species have bulbs that are only partly buried, the exposed section often turning bright green. The winter rainfall region's bulbs on the other hand are mostly from arid habitats and are found fairly deep below the surface, usually flowering before producing leaves. The genus produces relatively large bulbs that act as food and water storage organs, and consist of fleshy leafbases or tunics that may be arranged in two obvious ranks - termed a distichous arrangement. The morphology of the bulbs is useful in taxonomy and identification.

Haemanthus have from one to six leaves, ranging from broad, leathery and prostrate to narrow, crisped or succulent and erect, with a variety of surface textures from smooth to extremely hairy or even sticky. A few species such as H. unifoliatus and H. nortieri, usually produce only a single erect, broad leaf. H. coccineus and H. sanguineus were two of the first species in this genus to be described and because of their reddish flowers, gave rise to the generic name, being Greek for 'blood flower'. Haemanthus is found from Namibia through Namaqualand to the Western Cape and then through the Southern Cape to the Eastern Cape as far north as KwaZulu-Natal and the Transvaal.Haemanthus species are extremely variable in their habitat requirements - from coastal dunes to mountain tops, rocky ledges to seasonally-inundated gravel plains and bogs. Some species, such as H. canaliculatus, are to some extent fire-dependent in that they need occasional burning of their fynbos habitat to clear undergrowth in order to flower.

The genus Haemanthus was created in 1753 by Linnaeus. The name is derived from Greek words αίμα, haima and ανθος, anthos, meaning "blood flower". In 1838 the eccentric Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, placed H. pubescens in a new genus Leucodesmis, H. coccineus in Perihema, and H. carneus in Serena. The troubled English botanist Richard Anthony Salisbury (1761–1829) in his 1866 posthumous publication 'Genera of Plants', placed H. amarylloides under Melicho and H. albiflos under Diacles.

The genus was illustrated in Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin's description of the rarities in the glasshouses of Schönbrunn, Plantarum Rariorum Horti Caesarei Schoenbrunnensis Descriptiones Et Icones (1797–98). The first thorough taxonomic treatment of the genus was by Baker in 1896 and published in Flora Capensis. Nothing further was done until 1976 when Friis & Nordal published a brief review recognising only 6 species and reinstating Scadoxus. Deidré Snijman's work published in 1984, described 21 distinct species, with H. pauculifolius, occurring only on the Transvaal Drakensberg Escarpment, later being added.

A list of all the species accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as of June 2011 is given below. Species formerly included in Haemanthus have been transferred to a number of genera, including Scadoxus. For example, Haemanthus grandiflorus is now Scadoxus multiflorus.[2]

Image Scientific name Distribution
Haemanthus albiflos1C2000.jpg Haemanthus albiflos Jacq. southern Cape through the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal
Haemanthus amarylloides Jacq. between Springbok and Grootvlei in Namaqualand, and along the Bokkeveld Mountains escarpment to Gifberg near Vanrhynsdorp.
Haemanthus avasmontanus Dinter south-east of Windhoek in central Namibia.
Haemanthus barkerae Snijman Western Cape from the Bokkeveld Mountains near Nieuwoudtville and the foothills of the Roggeveld Mountains, to the Hantamsberg near Calvinia, and bounded to the north and south by Loeriesfontein and the Tanqua Karoo.
Haemanthus canaliculatus Levyns Western Cape between Betty's Bay and Rooiels
Haemanthus carneus Ker Gawler the Orange Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape near Grahamstown and Somerset East
Haemanthus coccineus 150915-2.jpg Haemanthus coccineus L. Namibia, to South Africa in the Cape Peninsula, to the Keiskamma River in the Eastern Cape
Haemanthus crispus Snijman Namaqualand
Haemanthus dasyphyllus Snijman Loeriesfontein in Namaqualand.
Haemanthus deformis 1DS-II 1-8796.jpg Haemanthus deformis Hook.f. KwaZulu-Natal
Haemanthus graniticus Snijman Namaqualand
Haemanthus humilis subsp. hirsutus 1DS-II 2-5395.jpg Haemanthus humilis Jacq. western Transvaal, Orange Free State, northern and eastern Cape.
Haemanthus lanceifolius Jacq. Namaqualand
Haemanthus montanus Baker eastern region of South Africa
Haemanthus namaquensis R.A. Dyer Namaqualand
Haemanthus nortieri Isaac north of Clanwilliam
Haemanthus pauculifolius 1DS-II 3-4539.jpg Haemanthus pauculifolius Snijman & A.E.van Wyk Swaziland and from the Middle Pongolo River Reservoir as well as Blyderivierspoort to Pigg's Peak in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
Haemanthus pubescens L.f (3).jpg Haemanthus pubescens L. southern Namibia and Namaqualand
Haemanthus pumilio Jacq. Western Cape
Haemanthus sanguineus - Cape Flats vegetation SA2.jpg Haemanthus sanguineus Jacq. Western Cape.
Haemanthus tristis Snijman southeast Tanqua Karoo
Haemanthus unifoliatus Snijman Cape Province, Namaqualand


Haemanthus species do best in large, well-drained containers or planted out in a rockery. Depending on species, they should have full sun or partial shade - winter rainfall species preferring full sun, while summer rainfall and evergreen species need partial shade. Most species are extremely tolerant of poor soil, but should not be disturbed if they are to flower. Propagation can be by offsets (adventitious bulblets), leaf cuttings and by germination of seed. Seeds when ripe are generally surrounded by a sticky pulp, producing long silken threads which presumably are useful in anchoring the seed when germinating and in the early stages of growth.
See also

List of plants known as lily


Stevens, P.F., Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Amaryllidoideae

WCSP (2011), World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2011-05-25

Germplasm Resources Information Network
African Flowering Plants Database
The Genus Haemanthus: A Revision - Deidré Snijman (National Botanic Gardens of South Africa 1984) ISBN 0-620-07339-X
Pacific Bulb Society
Pacific Bulb Society

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