The word Amaryllis has Greek origins, meaning "splendor." The true Amaryllis is the Amaryllis belladonna, a smaller variety than its more commonly recognized relative, Hippeastrum (what we commonly refer to as the Amaryllis and have come to associate with the winter holidays). The Hippeastrum (new name Amaryllis) was first discovered on an Andean Mountains plant expedition in the early nineteenth century.
Legend has it that the Amaryllis began as a shy, timid nymph. Amaryllis fell deeply in love with Alteo, a shepherd with Hercules's strength and Apollo's beauty, but her affections were unrequited. Hoping that she could win him over by bestowing upon him the thing he desired
most—a flower so unique, it had never existed in the world before—Amaryllis sought advice from the Oracle of Delphi.
Following the Oracle's instructions, 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 at last Alteo opened his door, there before him was a striking crimson flower, sprung from the blood of Amaryllis's heart. Sigh.
:images (top) sköna hem, (bottom) d:m