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.

Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb.

Very variable evergreen bulbous perennial with 10-12 basal leaves, up to 1.2m long, and stems to 60cm, bearing umbels of up to 11 fragrant white, green tinged flowers in spring.  [RHSD, Hortus, Baker Am.]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described by Jacquin in 1763 as Pancratium littorale [Select. Stirp. Amer. Hist. p.99/1763] and placed in Hymenocallis by Salisbury in 1812 [THS vol.1, p.338/1812].

‘This variety [Pancratium littorale] flowered, and was probably introduced into the garden of the late Dr. Pitcairn, about 1782; but from whence it came we are not now able to ascertain; [variety alpha] was found by Jacquin near Carthagena in the Island of Tierra Bomba, growing plentifully on the sea-shore: [the variety beta] we have never found figured in any work, but there are several good figures of alpha, as may be seen by the above synonymy.  Requires to be kept in a stove, where it will flower twice a year. It is to be observed that the crown bears the same proportion to the segments in both varieties, although they differ so much in the length of the tube.  The specific character contains all the description necessary to distinguish it from the species at present known to us; an entirely new one of which has lately flowered at Kew, brought from Cayenne; it has broad glossy leaves, exceeding long flowers, and the smallest crown of any we ever yet have seen.’  [BM t.825/1805]. 

Baker considers the plants named by Herbert Hymenocallis disticha and H. acutifolia [BM t.2621/1826] to be merely forms of H. littoralis

Various dates are given for its introduction, 1742 [Baker Am.], 1758 [JD, PD], probably reflecting the great variability in the species.  BR f.940/1825.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [B.384/1845].


Published May 17, 2009 - 02:03 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2012 - 10:58 AM

Shown are part of a leaf and white flowers with shallow cup and long, narrow segments.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.825, 1805.

Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. | BM t.825/1805 as Pancratium littorale | BHL

Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

Tropical America

  • Hymenocallis adnata Herb.
  • Hymenocallis americana (Mill.) M.Roem.
  • Hymenocallis arenaria M.Roem.
  • Hymenocallis biflora K.Koch & C.D.Bouché
  • Hymenocallis disticha (Sims) Herb.
  • Hymenocallis dryanderi (Ker Gawl) M.Roem.
  • Hymenocallis insignis Kunth
  • Hymenocallis acutifolia M.Roem.
  • Hymenocallis niederleinii Pax
  • Hymenocallis panamensis Lindl.
  • Hymenocallis pedalis Herb.
  • Hymenocallis peruviana M.Roem.
  • Hymenocallis senegambica Kunth & C.D.Bouché
  • Hymenocallis stapelsiana (Herb.) M.Roem.
  • Hymenocallis staplesii Sweet
  • Hymenocallis tenuiflora Herb.
  • Pancratium littorale Jacq.
  • Pancratium americanum Mill.
  • Pancratium acutifolium Sweet
  • Pancratium mexicanum Lindl.
  • Pancratium pedale (Herb.) Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Pancratium pediale Lodd.
  • Pancratium staplesii (Sweet) Steud.
  • Pancratium tenuiflorum (Herb.) Herb. ex Steud.
  • Troxistemon distichus (Sims) Raf.
  • Troxistemon dryanderi (Ker Gawl.) Raf.
  • Troxistemon littorale (Jacq.) Raf.
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Pancratium littorale 

Confidence level