Treasures of the Rare Book Collection – Plants of Mediterranean Climate Areas
This digital exhibition shows off a small part of what can be found in the Arboretum Library’s Rare Book Room. It’s also a way of showing how library collections are connected to living collections in the Arboretum. If you have a smartphone, take The Rare Book Walk in the garden (using Google Maps) to view the plants in real time, as you look at images of the library’s rare book collection.
By clicking on the image or imageslider you will be transferred to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden Flickr-page where there is additional information about the image. Here, on the webpage, there are interesting stories about the plants shown in the exhibition. By clicking on the Google Maps-link, you will be shown where you can find that same plant as the illustrator drew in 19th century, here in the Arboretum, in the 21st century.
The plants featured in this exhibition are from Mediterranean Climate Areas, which is the type of climate in Southern California – dry summers with precipitation generally occurring during the winter.
Please note that plant names may have changed over time. The captions to each image usually reflect the plant’s name according to the source. To search for current plant names, refer to The International Plant Names Index (IPNI).
An amaryllis is a true bulb, like an onion, consisting of multiple encircling leaf bases, which make up the bulb. The larger the bulb, the faster it will bloom and the larger the blooms. A bulb smaller than two inches will not bloom, but once of flowering size, an Amaryllis bulb can produce flowers up to 75 years.
Amaryllis belladonna. Image source: Botanical Register Vol. IX (9: plate 714. 1823).
The word amaryllis comes from the Greek word amaryssein, which means to sparkle, referring to the bloom. It also references the tale of the Greek maiden named Amaryllis, who created a red bloom for her true love, from her own blood. Amaryllis was a shepherdess who loved Alteo, a shepherd with Hercules’ strength and Apollo’s beauty. However, Alteo only loved flowers. He’d often said that he would only love a girl, who bought him a new flower. So, Amaryllis dressed in maiden’s white and appeared at Alteo’s door for 30 nights, each time piercing her heart with a golden arrow. When Alteo finally opened his door, he found a crimson flower, sprung from the blood of Amaryllis’s heart.