Hippeastrum is a genus of about 90 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 a popular bulb flower for indoor growing. The bulb is tender and should not be exposed to frost, but is otherwise easy to grow, with large rewards for small efforts, especially those that bloom inside during the winter months. The very large, decorative flowers can also be grown outside in temperate areas. Most hippeastrum bulbs are between 5–12 cm (2"–5") in diameter and produce two to seven long-lasting evergreen or deciduous leaves that are 30–90 cm (12"–36") long and 2.5–5 cm (1"–2") wide. The flower stem is erect, 30–75 cm (12"–30") tall, 2.5–5 cm (1"–2") in diameter and is hollow. Depending on the species, it bears two to fifteen large flowers, each of which is 13–20 cm (5"–8") across with six brightly colored tepals (three outer sepals and three inner petals) that may be similar in appearance or very different. Some species are epiphytic (H. calyptratum, H. aulicum, H.arboricola and some others) and need good air circulation around their roots. Research shows that respiration doubles with each 10 °C increase in temperature.
Hippeastrum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hypercompe indecisa.
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