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 radiata (L’Hér.) Herb.

Bulbous perennial bearing umbels of several wavy-margined, rose-red or deep red flowers appear in summer and autumn followed by the strap-shaped leaves.  To 50cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, Baker Am.].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Amaryllis radiata by Charles Louis L'Héritier in 1789 [Sert. Angl. p.15/1789] and placed in Lycoris by Herbert in 1821 [Herbert’s Appendix p.20/1821].

‘Although known in our hothouses ever since 1750, it has been rarely seen in flower; and the present is the first we have ourselves witnessed.  When the late edition of the Hortus Kewensis was published its country had not been ascertained; but it is now however known, from Dr. Roxburgh's manuscripts, to belong to China; and by a native sample in the Lambertian Herbarium to Japan.  It comes very near to Amaryllis undulata of the Cape of Good Hope.  At Messrs. Colvill's nursery in the King's Road, Chelsea, where the drawing was taken, the plant had been made to flower by being kept during the first part of the summer in the hothouse and then plunged into a common hot-bed.  The bulbs are apt to break down into numerous offsets, while the outer coat remains entire, so that they appear like one bulb with numerous leaves; a closer inspection however shows that they consist of several bulbs with 3 leaves to each bulb.’  [BR f.596/1822 as Amaryllis radiata]. 

Reportedly introduced from China by Fothergill.  [ABR pl.95/1800].


History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [B.320/1845].  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 radiata Miq. (1865) probably = Ungernia trisphaera Bunge

Published May 17, 2009 - 03:24 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2012 - 04:52 PM

Illustrated are bulb and leaves with an umbel of narrow-petalled, wavy-margined red flowers.  Botanical Register f.596, 1822.

Lycoris radiata (L’Hér.) Herb. | BR f.596/1822 | BHL


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin


  • Amaryllis radiata L’Hér.
  • Lycoris terracianii Damman
  • Nerine japonica Miq.
  • Nerine radiata (L’Hér.) Sweet
  • Orexis radiata (L’Hér.) Salisb.


Common Name

Red spider lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Lycoris radiata


Confidence level high