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.

Cybistetes longifolia (L.) Milne-Redh. & Schweik.

Frost-tender perennial, the rootstock a bulb, the strap-shaped leaves, radiating from the base to form a flattened fan shape, to 35cm long, sometimes present at flowering, sometimes appearing afterwards, the fragrant, widely funnel-shaped flowers opening white and maturing to deep pink outside.  [CECB, Baker Am.]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

Often placed in Ammocharis as Ammocharis longifolia but I have followed The Colour Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs in placing it in Cybistetes. First botanically described as Amaryllis longifolia by Linnaeus in 1753 [Sp. Pl. p.293/1753]. Placed in Ammocharis as Ammocharis longifolia by William Herbert in 1821 [Herbert’s Appendix p.17/1821] and in Cybistetes by Milne-Redhead and Schweickerdt in 1939 [J. Linn. Soc. Bot. vol.52, p.192/1939].

‘This is a magnificent bulbous plant, a native of the Cape; it flowered with us in the month of September, the flower stem being about nine inches in height.  The blossoms are delicately fragrant.  The bulb is very large.  The best means of preserving it is in the greenhouse through the year, observing to give little or no water when the leaves decay.’  [LBC no.745/1823]. 

Johnson’s Dictionary stated that Brunsvigia falcata was introduced to Britain in 1774, although Curtis’s Botanical Magazine gave an earlier date: ‘Cultivated  in 1752, by P. Miller.  Blooms about August, diffusing a fragrance which appeared to us to resemble that of the “Lily of the Valley”.’  [BM t.1443/1812].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.33/1843].  Received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831.  [MP A2948].


There is some confusion with synonymy in the literature, for example Crinum longifolium Thunb. has been ascribed to both Crinum capense Herb. and Cybistetes longifolia (L.) Milne-Redh. & Schweik. 

It has been suggested that Cybistetes longifolia may be a parent of the multiflora Amaryllis hybrids. See x Amarygia parkeri 'Blando-Josephiniana' and x Amarygia parkeri ‘Ameliae’ for a discussion.

Published May 07, 2009 - 04:57 PM | Last updated Jul 09, 2012 - 12:58 PM

The image shows a large bulb and umbel of white to pink, funnel-shaped flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1443, 1812.

Cybistetes longifolia (L.) Milne-Redh. & Schweik. | BM t.1443/1812 | BHL.


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

  • Ammocharis longifolia (L.) Herb.
  • Ammocharis falcata (Jacq.) Herb.
  • Ammocharis herrei F.M.Leight.
  • Amaryllis falcata (Jacq.) L’Hér.
  • Amaryllis longifolia L.
  • Brunsvigia falcata (Jacq.) Ker Gawl.
  • Crinum falcatum Jacq.
  • Crinum longifolium (L.) Thunb.
  • Cybistetes herrei (F.M.Leight.) D.Müll.-Doblies & U. Müll.-Doblies
  • Haemanthus falcatus (Jacq.) Thunb.
  • Palinetes falcata (Jacq.) Salisb.


Common Name

Malgas lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Ammocharis falcata 


Confidence level high