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.

Lycoris aurea (L’Hér.) Herb.

Bulbous perennial, stout stems bear umbels of several tubular-funnel-shaped, wavy-margined, yellow flowers in spring and summer, followed by the strap-shaped leaves.  To 60cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, Baker Am.].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Amaryllis africana by Lamarck in 1783, mistakenly considering it an aaaaafrican plant [Encycl. vol.1, p.124/1783]. Described as Amaryllis aurea by Charles Louis L'Héritier in 1789 [Sert. Angl. p.14/1789] and placed in Lycoris by Herbert in 1821 [Herbert’s Appendix p.20/1821].

‘[Lycoris aurea] was introduced by Dr. Fothergill in 1777. […] This splendid family [Amaryllidaceae] has been a good deal tortured of late; some botanists have been endeavouring to dissect it into fifteen or twenty parts, each to be called a genus.  From this we are not aware that science would derive any great advantage, unless indeed the raising of “much learned dust” be deemed such, of which we cannot help entertaining doubts.’  [LBC no.847/1824].  

‘There are but few of the Chinese plants that require the heat of a stove; the present species would no doubt live in a good greenhouse, but the general practice confirms the propriety of giving it more heat, particularly when coming into blossom; the flowering indeed of many greenhouse plants, especially those of the bulbus and tuberous kinds, is greatly improved by a practice of this sort.’  [BM t.409/1798]. 

Amaryllis aurea and radiata have proved in general very shy of flowering in our hot houses; owing, according to Mr. Sweet, to their not being properly managed.  Duly treated, they will be found to flower as freely as the rest of this natural tribe.’  [BR f.611/1822].  FS f.410/1848.


History at Camden Park

Both Lycoris aurea and L. radiata are well established in the house garden, mostly in discrete areas, almost certainly remnants of plants grown extensively for the cut flower market in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and later transferred to the house garden.  Well-defined remnant beds of L. radiata can still be seen in the lower garden.  Lycoris aurea was only listed in the 1845 catalogue.


Published May 17, 2009 - 03:32 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2012 - 04:48 PM

Shown are a leaf and an umbel of narrow-petalled, wavy-margined yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.409, 1798.

Lycoris aurea (L’Hér.) Herb. | BM t.409/1798 | BHL


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

China, Japan

  • Amaryllis aurea L’Hér.
  • Amaryllis africana Lam.
  • Amaryllis platypetala Lind. ex Bury
  • Lycoris africana (Lam.) M.Roem.
  • Lycoris lajolla Traub
  • Lycoris traubii W.Hayw.
  • Nerine aurea (L’Hér.) Sweet


Common Name

Golden Spider Lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Lycoris aurea 


Confidence level high