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.

Zephyranthes atamasco (L.) Herb.

A bulbous perennial, the basal leaves are semi-erect and strap-shaped, the scentless funnel-shaped white flowers, sometimes flushed with purple, appearing in spring or summer.  To 30cm.  [RHS, Hortus, Baker Am.].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Amaryllis atamasco by Linnaeus in 1753 [Sp. Pl. p.292/1753] and placed in Zephyranthes by Herbert in 1821 [Herbert’s Appendix p.36/1821].

‘The Amaryllis Atamasco is a native of Virginia and Carolina, in which countries it grows very plentifully in the fields and woods, where it makes a beautiful appearance when in flower, which is in the spring.  The flowers of this sort are produced singly, and at their first appearance have a fine Carnation colour on their outside, but this fades away to a pale or almost white before the flowers decay.  This plant is so hardy as to thrive in the open air in England, provided the roots are planted in a warm situation and on a dry soil; it may be propagated by offsets from the roots, which they put out pretty plentifully, especially if they are not transplanted oftner than once in three years.  [Quoted from Miller's Garden Dictionary].  It is usual with the Nurserymen about London to keep this plant in the greenhouse, where it flowers about the end of April.  Mr. Charles Hatton cultivated here in 1680, Ait. Kew on the authority of Morison.’  [BM t.239/1793]. 

‘With us it requires a little more protection.  It has flowered for several years here, at the edge of a border close to the front of the stove, planted in sandy peat earth.’  [LBC no.1899/1832].  Introduced to Britain in 1629.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.458/1843].  The earlier importation may have been lost as Macarthur included Zephyranthes atamasco among desiderata to Loddiges’ Nursery, 6th January 1845.  [MP A2933-2, p.28].


Published May 15, 2009 - 05:10 PM | Last updated Aug 12, 2012 - 03:28 PM

Shown are bulb, narrowly strap-shaped leaves and white, funnel-shaped flower.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.239, 1793.

Zephyranthes atamasco (L.) Herb. | BM t.239/1793 as Amaryllis atamasco | BHL

Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

South eastern USA

  • Amaryllis atamasco L.
  • Amaryllis atanasia Crantz
  • Amaryllis pulchella Salisb.
  • Amaryllis verecunda Salisb.
  • Amaryllis virginiensis Oken
  • Atamasco atamasco (L.) Greene
Common Name

Atamasco lily, Swamp lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Zephyranthes Atamasco 

Confidence level