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amaryllis (ămˌərĭlˈĭs), common name for some members of the Amaryllidaceae, a family of mostly perennial plants with narrow, flat leaves and with lilylike flowers borne on separate, leafless stalks. They are widely distributed throughout the world, especially in flatlands of the tropics and subtropics. Many ornamental plants of this family are mistakenly called lilies; they can be distinguished from members of the lily family (Liliaceae) by the anatomical placement of the ovary (see flower) and are considered more advanced in evolution than the lilies. Sometimes the amaryllis family is included in the Liliaceae.

Several fragrant, showy-blossomed species are commonly called amaryllis: the true amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna), or belladonna lily, of S Africa, and the more frequently cultivated tropical American species of Sprekelia, Lycoris, and especially Hippeastrum (e.g., the Barbados lily). The large Narcissus genus, including jonquils and daffodils, is native chiefly to the Mediterranean region, but it has been naturalized and is now widespread in the United States. Although the common names are sometimes used interchangeably, strictly the daffodil is the yellow N. pseudo-narcissus, with a long, trumpet-shaped central corona; the jonquil is the yellow N. jonquilla, with a short corona; and the narcissus is any of several usually white-flowered species, e.g., the poet's narcissus (N. poetica) with a red rim on the corona. The biblical rose of Sharon may have been a narcissus. Among many others that have become naturalized and are cultivated in Europe and North America are the snowdrops (any species of Galanthus), small early-blooming plants of the Old World whose flowers are symbolic of consolation and of promise; and the tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa), a waxy-flowered Mexican plant.

Economically, the most important plants of the family are of the nonbulbous genus Agave, the tropical American counterpart of the African Aloe genus of the family Liliaceae (lily family). Different agaves provide soap (e.g., those called amoles—see soap plant), food and beverages, and hard fiber. Henequen and sisal hemp are among the fibers obtained from agaves; fique and Cuban hemp come from other similar genera. Maguey is the Mexican name for various species (chiefly A. americana) called American aloe, or century plant, that contain the sugar agavose, sometimes used medicinally but better known as the source of the popular alcoholic beverages pulque and mescal (or mezcal). The name “century plant” arises from the long intervals between bloomings—from 5 to 100 years. After blooming, the century plant dies back and is replaced by new shoots. The blue agave (A. tequilana weber azul) is the maguey used in making tequila. The agave cactus (Leuchtenbergia principis) is a true cactus that resembles the agave.

Amaryllis is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, Lilliales, Amaryllidaceae.

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symbol of optimism. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 177; Kunz, 326]
See: Hope
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


any of several amaryllidaceous plants of the Eurasian genus Galanthus, esp G. nivalis, having drooping white bell-shaped flowers that bloom in early spring
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Flore Pleno is the double-flowered form of the common snowdrop and look for G.
Snowdrop enthusiasts, known as galanthophiles, get very excited about different varieties, with subtle differences in green markings and petal shapes, but I'm quite content with the common snowdrop, preferably in large drifts under grand old trees.
nivalis, the common snowdrop, has narrow green leaves and dainty white and green fragrant flowers.
The common snowdrop, galanthus, colchicum, hyacinths and ornithogalum all have toxins concentrated in bulbs, that extracted from another, sea squill, is used to make rat poison.
nivalis, the common snowdrop, has narrow, green leaves and dainty white and green fragrant flowers.
`Atkinsii', which grows up to 20 cm (8in), twice as high as the common snowdrop, G.
Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, is one of around 19 species and of course there are hundreds of cultivars that have been developed over the years.
If you want giant snowdrops, go for G Atkinsii, which grows up to 20cm (8in), twice as high as the common snowdrop, G nivalis.
Galanthus nivalis,our common snowdrop,has long been grown in our gardens and has escaped to become naturalised throughout the country.
The common snowdrop, from eastern Europe, is Galanthus nivalis but there's nothing common about it for the flowers frequently differ from each other in their markings.