Hippeastrum (pronounced /ˌhɪpiˈæstrəm/) is a genus of about 70–75 species and 600+ hybrids and cultivars of bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. Some species are grown for their large showy flowers. These plants are popularly but erroneously known as Amaryllis, a monotypic African genus in the same family.
“Hippeastrum” is Greek for “horseman’s star” (also known today as “knight’s star”) and was chosen in 1837 by the Honorable Reverend William Herbert, Dean of Manchester. While no one is entirely sure why he picked this name, it’s likely he chose it because of the plant’s striking resemblance to the “morning star,” a medieval weapon used by horsemen, as William Herbert was both a clergyman and something of an expert on early medieval history,. A version of the weapon was also called a “holy water sprinkler,” an ecclesiastical object with which the Dean would have been familiar.
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