Thank you to Lorax for posting this treat of an image in our Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum, and for including a brief write-up as well. With the help offered by Lorax’s post, Steve Coughlin wrote this entry.
Amaryllidaceae is a family of over 800 herbaceous, perennial, and bulbous species that are distributed broadly throughout the world. Eucrosia is a genus of 8 species endemic to the dry, rocky, western Andean slopes of Ecuador and Peru. Though the type specimen of E. mirabilis was collected in Peru, it has never been recollected there, and recent research conducted by Brian Mathew and Gwilym Lewis reports the plant to be native to southern Ecuador, where Lorax took today’s photo.
According to Lorax, E. mirabilis—which means 'wonderful' Eucrosia—is "often referred to as a "lost" species - botanical descriptions exist as far back as 1817, but the type specimen doesn’t describe the flower well". She proceeds to write that upon her encountering mirabilis, the plant’s "spectacular flowering spike was about 50 cm tall, with white stamens projecting a good 10-15 cm. further than the green umbels. Flowers appeared before leaves after the dry season. It’s an Ecuadoran native, thriving in biomes that get a distinct dry season (which is what stimulates blooming)".
The plant, which here hovers as elegantly as the upper part of a cat’s eye, has large, fleshy bulbs that are able to survive longs periods of environmental hostility, though often without visible growth. It excels in warm temperatures and well-drained soil, and flowers in late spring and early summer, subsequently growing petiolate leaves that reach up to 30 cm. in width.
Mathew, Brian and Gwilym Lewis. “Eucrosia mirabilis.” Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 2.23 (2006): 157-162.