THE HISTORY OF THE CLIVIA IN
The Clivia was first described by English
naturalist William Burchell in 1828.
Widely sought after
right from the beginning, this exotic plant named after Lady
Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland and an avid
plant enthusiast. Extremely popular in Victorian
England and in 19th century Belgium, the Clivia spawned a
cottage industry in plant development. More
recently, the Clivia has become very sought after in the Far East.
From Japan to Korea to China, Clivias are found in public
displays and in private homes. In fact, in
Bejing, Mao Tse-Tung’s body lies surrounded by potted Clivia.
History in Belgium
The city of Ghent and the
surrounding region is the center of ornamental plant cultivation in Belgium.
As early as 1648, the growers
were united in the "brotherhood of St. Dorothy . In 1808 the "Agricultural
and Botanical Society of Ghent" was founded, whose goal was to organize
annual exhibitions following the English example. There can be no doubt that within this
group of collectors there was a cross-border trade in plants and
seeds over the whole world, and thus the clivia entered Belgium.
In the library of the Royal Society for Agriculture and botany of
We found several publications,
including an annual botanical journal entitled 'Flore des serres'.
In the volume for 1853, we
find the description of Clivia (Imanthophyllum) Miniatum. The plant has narrow leaves and a 50 cm long flower stalk
which contains 12 to 15 flowers.20 years after the first
appearance of Clivia Miniata in England we would expect to see some changes.
But were these Clivia all
descendants of the first imported plants? Or - what is more likely - had other
and better varieties been imported?
It was the time that Jean
Linden was traveling around the world seeking for new plants.
Louis Van Houtte was also very
busy with Clivia.
In 1879 (Illustration Horticole) we read that "many new varieties of C. Miniata were introduced
at the expositions held between 1873 and 1878.
The C.M. Lindeni, developed by
Mr. Theodore Reimers, who was the head gardener for Mrs. Donner in Ottenhousen
near Hamburg, Germany.
in Germany would be needed to trace the origin of these plants.
This Lindeni has a very heavy flower stalk and a nice
arrangement of the perianthes, with lovely color and deep orange flowers. The umbel can contain up to 39 flowers".
Also from Reimer's origin
was the Marie Reimers.
was introduced in 1880 by ETS. Van Houtte , one of the largest nurseries in
Ghent at the time.
A very nice variety was the
Mad.Legrelle Dhanis from 1881
In that time emprovement of
the flowers was most important as
by the Clivia M. B.S. Williams
Another popular variety was
the cross made by Charles Raes between C. Nobilis and C. Miniata, which was
called the "Clivia Cyrtantiflorum; (as mentioned in Flore des serres,
From 1879 onward, the
seedlings of the C.M. Lindeni variety were very much in demand.
Some of the seedlings
reflected the type in its purest form,
while other divergent
specimens gave us numerous new varieties with large umbels and flowers and, more
recently, also with broad leaves.
Front page of
a cataloge of Edw. Pynaert Van Geert . Presenting the varieties as Lindeni
, M. Van Houtte , Robustum and splendens . Price list from 1902.
After the First World War,
Bier & Ankersmit introduced the C.M. Compacta Robusta to the market. This
was a more compact plant, with leaves twice as broad as existing varieties and
leaf tips rounded rather than pointed. Through its participation in exhibitions and its
catalogue publications, this large commercial grower located in Melle made this
type known around the world
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