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.

Scadoxus puniceus (L.) Friis & I.Nordal

A striking bulbous perennial with wavy-edged basal leaves and conical heads of up to 100 tiny yellowish-green to pink or scarlet flowers with prominent red bracts, followed by yellow berries, in spring and summer.  The leaves may be present or absent at flowering but are invariably absent at Camden.  To 50cm.  It will grow well in the garden with minimal protection in many parts of Australia.  [RHSE, Hortus, CECB].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described by Linnaeus as Haemanthus puniceus in 1753 [Sp. Pl. p.325/1753] and placed in Scadoxus by Friis & Nordal in 1976 [Norweg. J. Bot. vol.23, p.64/1976].

Haemanthus natalensis and H. magnificus were once considered separate species but are now regarded as, at best, varieties of Scadoxus puniceus.  ‘H. puniceus is now almost entirely replaced [in gardens] by H. natalensis and the varieties of the more showy H. magnificus.’  [Baker Am.]. 

‘This plant has been long in cultivation in this country.  It is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, and will live in the greenhouse, but appears to thrive most if preserved in the stove.’  [LBC no.1948/1833]. 

‘[Haemanthus puniceus] Was imported from Holland and cultivated in 1722, at Eltham, by Dr. James Sherard.  A greenhouse plant; flowers from May to June; seeds abundantly.  Bloom of a feeble yellowish red colour, and not very ornamental; has no scent.  Our specimen was sent from Mr. Barr's Nursery, Ball's Pond, Islington.’  [BM t. 1315/1810].  It is also figured as H. natalensis.  [BM t.5378/1863].


History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [B.205/1850]. Now well established in the gardens from a recent re-introduction.


Published May 27, 2009 - 03:15 PM | Last updated Aug 10, 2012 - 04:48 PM

illustrated is a leaf and upright orange, paint-brush like flower.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1315, 1810.

Scadoxus puniceus (L.) Friis & I.Nordal | BM t.1315/1810 as Haemanthus puniceus | BHL


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

Eastern and southern Africa

  • Haemanthus puniceus L.
  • Gyaxis puniceus (L.) Salisb.
  • Haemanthus fax-imperii Cufod.
  • Haemanthus goetzei Harms
  • Haemanthus insignis Hook.
  • Haemanthus magnificus (Herb.) Herb.
  • Haemanthus natalensis Hook.
  • Haemanthus orchidifolius Salisb.
  • Haemanthus redouteanus M.Roem.
  • Haemanthus rouperi auct.
  • Haemanthus superbus Baker


Common Name

Paint brush lily, Snake lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Haemanthus puniceus 


Confidence level high