Alstroemerias: A Staple in Floral Bouquets

Alstroemerias, or "Peruvian lilies" are a staple in many floral bouquets and arrangements. They are also the next flower on the 100 Flower Project.

NOTE: If any of the botany/biology terms are unfamiliar to you, check out this quick primer on biological taxonomy for a refresher.

About the Flower:

The Alstroemeria is a type of lily flower that is native to South America. Alstroemeria is a genus of about 50 flower species and many hybrids and at least 190 cultivars. Cultivars are assemblages of plants produced by careful breeding and selection for floral color and form. Cultivars can come in combinations of white, yellow, salmon, pink, orange, and red colors, and often have two or three petals that are striped. Species native to Chile are winter-growing flowers, but there are a few species native to Brazil that grow in the summer. However, many hybrids and cultivars have been cultivated to grow in the spring and summer.

Alstroemeria flowers are commonly called the "Peruvian Lily" or the "Lily of the Incas," after the type species, Alstroemeria pelegrina, which is indigenous to Chile and some parts of Peru. This species blooms annually between October and December, and prefers the rocks and coastal cliffs at high tide for their habitat.

The Alstroemeria pelegrina first described by Johan Peter Falk, who was a student of Carl Linnaeus in 1762. (Linnaeus is the father of binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.) Linnaeus bears the botanical authority— that is, Linnaeus published the botanical name of the alstroemeria genus but named it after his other pupil, Baron Clas Alströmer, a Swedish naturalist.

Alstroemeria hybrids and cultivars are widely popular in cut flower bouquets among florist shops across the globe. The blooms can last up to two weeks, and are often used as a symbol of friendship.

About the Papercut:

I’ve gotten many Peruvian lilies from my husband over the years, so I’m very familiar with the florist’s variety of alstroemeria. However, as I was looking at photos of other cultivars and species of alstroemeria for reference, I was struck by the bright oranges, pinks,  and yellows that they can come in, kinds that seems almost over-saturated with color in a way I’ve never seen in a cut flower. I immediately knew that I wanted to do an orange background for this flower. 

I’m not exactly sure which species or cultivar I modeled my cut after, as they all look mostly the same to an untrained eye like myself. However, I realize that this is going to happen with every flower I do for my 100 Flowers Project because the differences between species, hybrids, and various cultivars are subtle, and I’m not a botanist. But that’s ok, that’s why this list is using the genus and family names rather than a particular species of flower. 

The stripes on the two petals were a bit tricky to figure out how to do. Most times, I tend to make papercuts where I cut out everything but the outline of the shape. However, in order for this to work, all the lines must be connected. These stripes needed to “float” and not be connected to each other, so the only way to do this was to reverse how I normally cut. That is, rather than cutting out positive space, I had to cut out the negative space. I cut the stripes and left the petal whole. I wasn’t sure how this was going to look with the other, non-striped petals, being cut out, but it was the only way I could figure out how to make the stripes. In the end, I think it came out rather well. It’s tricky to know when to cut out the positive space and when to cut out the negative space, but I’m learning how to make those design decisions the more I practice them. 

Overall, I’m happy with how my second flower for the 100 Flowers Project turned out. What do you think?

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