Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Brunsvigia josephinae (Delile) Ker-Gawl.

Bulbous perennial, leaves about 4-6, oblong, usually absent at flowering, suberect.  In autumn scapes to 65cm high bear umbels of 30-40, characteristically boat-shaped, dark red flowers, to 8cm long, yellowish towards the base and with strongly reflexed segments, the leaves appearing after the flowers.  To 65cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, CECB]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Amaryllis gigantea by Marum in 1806 [Verh. Holl. Maatsch Weetensch. Haarlem vol.3, p.345/1806] then as Amaryllis josephiniae by Delile in 1812 [Les Liliacées vol.7, p.370/1812]. The latter specific epithet was retained by Ker Gawler when he transferred it to Brunsvigia in 1817. Brunsvigia josephiniae, or a spelling variant, is the name by which it is known today.

Bulbs were purchased from Holland for the Empress Josephine’s garden at Malmaison, and the plant named after her by Redouté.  Introduced to Britain in 1814.  [JD].  ‘Before we had seen Brunsvigia josephinae in the plant, and judging solely from the figure in the Liliacées, we conceived it to be of the same species as the Brunsvigia multiflora, most correctly represented in the 1619th  article of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.  But a view of the two plants themselves has convinced us that we had judged wrong. […] The present drawing was taken at the never-failing source of curious and beautiful Liliaceae, Mr. Griffin’s collection at South Lambeth; it had been very lately imported by that gentleman from the Cape of Good Hope. […] The specific name of Josephinae was a tribute of respect from the author of the Liliacées to the late repudiated Empress of France, a munificent patroness of botany and horticulture, by whom the fine collection in the garden of La Malmaison was formed, and to whose fostering care we are indebted for more than one of the most splendid botanical works which have ever appeared. […] Messrs. Lee and Kennedy are in possession of an offset from the plant which flowered at La Malmaison.’  [BR f.192 and 193/1817].  BM t.2578/1825.  FS f.322-323/1848. 

History at Camden Park

Introduced to the gardens before 1843.  Listed in all published catalogues [B.38/1843].  We have no specific information on its introduction to Camden Park, but in an 1836 catalogue from Loddiges’ Nursery in the Camden Park archives both Brunsvigia josephinae and B. multiflora are marked with a ‘c’, a code used elsewhere by William Macarthur and meaning that these plants were grown at Camden, possibly well before 1843. 


Published Jan 14, 2009 - 04:46 PM | Last updated Jun 20, 2012 - 05:13 PM

The image depicts a flowering scape showing typically boat-shaped red flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Cabinet t.2578, 1825.

Brunsvigia josephinae (Delile) Ker-Gawl. | BM t.2578/1825 | BHL

Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

  • Amaryllis josephinae Delile
  • Amaryllis gigantea Marum
  • Brunsvigia gigantea (Marum) Traub
  • Brunsvigia glauca Salisb.
  • Brunsvigia gydobergensis D.Mull.-Doblies & U.Mull.Doblies
  • Coburgia josephinae (Delile) Herb. ex Sims
Common Name

Josephine’s lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Amaryllis Josephiniana 

Confidence level