What Is the Meaning of the Amaryllis Flower?

Updated March 23, 2017

Tall stemmed, with trumpet-like blooms, the amaryllis symbolises radiant beauty. However, Greek mythology has it that the flower got its start from a shy shepherdess, who pierced her heart and created a crimson flower.


In Greek mythology, 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, sprang from the blood of Amaryllis's heart.

Contemporary Meaning

The word "amaryllis" comes from the Greek word "amaryssein," which means "to sparkle," referring to the bloom. Today, the amaryllis symbolises pride, determination and radiant beauty--the kind that emanates from an inner source and flowers outward.


Amaryllis has tall, thick stems and large, colourful flowers. Bloom colours includes red, pink, white, cream, orange and striped and variegated shades of several other colours.


The amaryllis is native to South Africa, the Americas and parts of the Caribbean. It was discovered in Chile in 1828 by Eduard Frederich Poeppig, a physician and plant hunter from Leipzig, Germany.

Fun Fact

An amaryllis bulb can produce flowers for up to 75 years.

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About the Author

Located in the mid-Atlantic United States, Elizabeth Layne has covered nonprofits and philanthropy since 1997, and has written articles on an array of topics for small businesses and career-seekers. An award-winning writer, her work has appeared in "The Chronicle of Philanthropy" newspaper and "Worth" magazine. Layne holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The George Washington University.