Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alstroemeria psittacina. Lily of the Incas, Peruvian Lily, New Zealand Christmas bell, Parrot Beak Lily

Alstroemeria is a genus of about 50 – 60 species of herbaceous plants native of Mexico and South America. The genus was named after Baron Clas Alstroemer (1736-94) who was a friend of Linnaeus. (Linnaeus was the inventor of modern plant classification system we use today for botanical names). When first described Alstroemeria was placed in the family Amaryllidaceae but it is now classified into its own family Alstroemeriaceae.

Alstroemeria psittacina can be found growing in the wild in Mexico and Northern Brazil. It was introduced to England in 1829. Flowers are borne at the top of a long, leafy stem about 1 metre high. There is usually 5 -6 flowers each about 45mm long dark red tipped with green and internally spotted brown. The top petals are longer than the bottom ones hence the name Parrot Beak Lily.
This and other commonly grown Alstroemerias are herbaceous perennials growing from a fleshy root. They can be difficult to transplant but once growing can be difficult to remove. In fact in some places this species A. psittacina has been know to be quite a rampant coloniser resistant to a number of eradication methods, especially in warmer climates.  Where frosts of up to 8C occur in winter growth is quite slow.

Transplanting this and other Alstroemerias can be tricky as they do not like to be shifted and the fleshy roots will die. However in commerce a variety of Alstroemerias are grown for cut flowers while others are grown as pot plants and treated with a dwarfing hormone to keep them compact.

Alstroemerias have been hybridised to create a large number of brightly coloured cultivars fro the cut flower market and as garden plants.

The  following website will give you further information.


BernieH said...

This alstroemeria is lovely! Love the common name - Parrot Beak Lily!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alan for your info.on Alstroemeria. Took the link you gave to Floridata, but that hasn't been updated since 2005 and still lists the plant's family as being Amaryllidaceae - but the other content was very detailed. Next question, how/where do I get hold of a plant?