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The Amaryllis

ElsaElsa Posts: 23,710 Superstar
edited December 2019 in Discussions

The Symbolism behind the Amaryllis

Greek lore tells of a shy maiden named Amaryllis who fell in love with Alteo, a shepherd endowed with the strength of Hercules and the beauty of Apollo himself. Her affections unrequited, Amaryllis sought consult with the oracle of Delphi. In following the oracle’s advice, Amaryllis would dress in maiden’s white and wait outside Alteo’s door for 30 nights, piercing her lovelorn heart with a golden arrow each night. Alteo fell in love with the maiden when he discovered her, surrounded by beautiful Amaryllis flowers, on his doorstep.


In Victorian times, Amaryllis came to symbolize strength and determination, due to its tall height and sturdiness. Over the last several years, Amaryllis have become increasingly popular Christmas plants, due to their willingness to bloom indoors in winter and their bright, colorful flowers. Today, they’re a fashionable alternative to poinsettias or Christmas cactus! In many American households, Amaryllis are a new holiday staple.


Amaryllis is the living symbol of love, determination and ethereal beauty, and an ideal gift for those you love and care for.   You can read more here.


Many festive varieties of amaryllis are available, some with stories that can be associated with Christmas themes. A hybrid amaryllis, 'St. Joseph’s Staff,' was introduced in the 16th century, according to online resource The African Garden. St. Joseph’s Staff is a reference to the legend that St. Joseph was chosen to become husband to the Virgin Mary after his staff sprouted amaryllis flowers during the selection process conducted by a high priest. The name, amaryllis, is derived from the Greek word that means “to sparkle,” and its botanical name, Hippeastrum, is Greek for “knight star.”  Read more here.

These spectacular flowers also have a few spectacular facts:

Not all of the flowers known as amaryllis in nurseries and florists are considered true amaryllises by botanists. The other flowers are in the genus Hippeastrum.

Other common names for amaryllises are naked ladies and belladonna lilies.

An amaryllis bulb can live up to 75 years.

Amaryllises are distantly related to lilies, which explain why many are shaped like lilies.

Some species of amaryllis grow flowers up to six inches in diameter.

Amaryllis flowers can attract carpenter bees. Bees are needed by the flowers for pollination.

Red amaryllises are often sold as alternatives to poinsettias around Christmastime.

Amaryllis Flower Color Meanings

Amaryllis are best known for sporting red or red and white blooms, but they also come in other colors. Some varieties are multi-colored. Color symbolism for the amaryllis can also be applied to many other decorative flowers.

Red: Means passion, love (whether requited or unrequited) and beauty. In China, red is a lucky color.

Purple: Some shades of purple amaryllis varieties are quite dark. Purple symbolizes not only royalty, but the spiritual side of life.

Orange: Means good health and happiness.

White: Means purity, femininity, children and innocence. White amaryllis that resemble lilies symbolize mourning for a loved one.

Pink: Not just for girls, but also for love and friendship for both genders and for people of all ages.

Yellow: They are a symbol for happiness, luck and good times ahead.

All these facts can be found here.

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