A few years back, in the peak of summer, late in the month of April to be precise, I noticed a strange flower blooming in my little garden and was quite pleasantly surprised. We had not planted anything like that and couldn’t make out from where it came to be. However, it was most welcome and lovely. It looked like a big red ball on the top of a single, long green stalk. After a bit of digging around came to know that it was a flower known as the Blood Lily, which is native to Africa.
The Blood Lily or African Blood Lily ( Scadoxus multiflorus ) formerly known as the Haemanthus genus, is a group of perennial bulbous plants which number about sixty. Scadoxus means a glorious umbel – a flower cluster. Haemanthus is made of two Greek words, Haema – blood and anthus – flower, Blood flower. And of course, multiflorus means innumerable number of flowers.
Blood Lilies in particular can be further divided into two groups – the evergreen kind and the deciduous variety. Evergreen Blood Lilies are known for having relatively sizeable, succulent leaves and they can thrive all year long. The deciduous Blood Lilies go into a dormant state for a period of year before they start blooming again. These are also known as the football lilies, fireball lilies or may flowers.
Every year since that first bloom, this plant starts putting out a shoot and leaves by early April with the beautiful flower beginning to show by the mid of the month, like clockwork. Its just astounding to even think of how it is able to maintain this accurate internal clock.
It happened this year too. One fine day, noticed small shoots coming out of the pot in which the blood lily had bloomed the year before. There were a couple of them this time around.
After a few days, the bud on one of the shoots started to bloom.
With each passing day it opened a little more. This is not a single flower but as I mentioned before, a bunch of small flowers, around 200 of them I believe, grouped together in a spherical umbel. These individual flowers were in bud form initially and started opening up slowly revealing the beautiful little red stalks with their yellow caps.
It was amazing to see the transformation over just a few days. With the first shoot in full bloom, the second one got ready to open up.
The bright red ball looked lovely and was a true cynosure of the eyes. One of the days when the blood lily was in full bloom it rained heavily, the much awaited pre-monsoon showers. The shiny little droplets of water collected on the red stalks made the flower look even more beautiful.
Here are the two, one is yet to bloom completely.
This year has been a double surprise. As I write this post, there are a couple more shoots popping their heads out! There might be another double showdown before it goes into sleep returning back the same time, next year.