We’re at about the mid-point of Lycoris season in my garden. L. longituba, L. squamigera, and the early L. radiata var. pumila have finished flowering. L. radiata var radiata and L. x albiflora are still a couple of weeks from blooming. This week, it was the turn of two very interesting hybrids.
Lycoris ‘Satsumhiryu’ is probably the most intensely colored Lycoris in my collection. Its fairly large flowers are an incredible, saturated red-purple color with metallic blue highlights. I haven’t been able to find much information on this Japanese hybrid, but judging by the flower color and shape, its parentage surely includes Lycoris radiata and Lycoris sprengeri.
In late 2013, I purchased a bulb of the common, pink Lycoris squamigera from a well-known nursery in the Raleigh area. The foliage produced in the spring of 2014 was consistent with L. squamigera, but when the plant bloomed in August, 2014, I had quite a surprise. Instead of being pink, the flowers have a yellow base color overlaid with reddish pigment. Darker stripes decorate the backs of the sepals and petals.
The amount of red pigment seems quite variable, depending on the age of the flowers and the amount of sun they receive. Sometimes pale yellow predominates:
And sometimes the red/orange pigment is very strong.
I contacted the nursery owner, thinking that perhaps tags had been switched, but he didn’t recognize the plant. His best guess was that it arrived incognito in a shipment of L. squamigera bulbs from Holland, although how such a striking plant ended up among L. squamigera is a mystery. The closest match I have found is L. x chejuensis, a natural hybrid involving L. chinensis (yellow) and L. sanguinea (orange). To see L. x chejuensis, scroll to the bottom of this Japanese Lycoris website. Perhaps my plant is a garden hybrid of the same parents, but if so, who made the cross and how did it end up in a batch of L. squamigera?
Whatever its identity really is, I really hit the jackpot with this bulb.