Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
Aptly named, this odd-looking plant from South Africa does indeed resemble an upturned paintbrush. Technically, the “flower” is actually a tight cluster of small, white blooms. Each bloom supports its own cluster of bright-yellow anthers which sit on top of long, white filaments.
The leaves are wide and lay flat on the ground—or over the top of a flower pot, as with our specimen—and they follow an annual cycle. A new pair emerges at flowering time, just as the old pair begins to wither.
The genus name Haemanthus is from the Ancient Greek for blood (haima) and flower (anthos), referring to the color seen in the flowers of other species within this genus: Haemanthus sanguineus and H. coccineus.
This white-flowered species is sitting on the sill of our Palm House, the central section of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory.