Plant info -> history

Some very early Coleus cultivars and one of the parents...

Pictures and descriptions of new introductions in 1880 from:
'A retail list of new beautiful & rare plants offered by William Bull', No. 164 (1880)
(source: British Museum of National History, London, UK)
1. Coleus 'Amazament'
2. Coleus 'Brilliant'
3. Coleus 'Chelsea Beauty'
4. Coleus 'Cherub'
5. Coleus 'Captivation'
"The following are very novel and handsome, quite distinct in character to anything yet offered."
AMAZEMENT, in this variety the leaves are very curiously cut in a laciniate manner, so that the parts often seem to hang together almost without support; they are of a chocolate colour, the centre and bullate prominences being of a bright maroon crimson, while the tips are usually but not always green. Extremely curious from its comical cutting.
BRILLIANT, the leaves of this variety are deeply toothed, the central portion is bright crimson lake, shaded with maroun crimson, exterior to which occur a series of yellow blotches, various in size and shape, while the tips of the marginal lobes are a greenish colour, all the colours being very intense.
CAPTIVATION, the deeply-toothed leaves are in this variety bright green, with a feathered centre of sulphur yellow, which is just flushed with a pale tint of rosy purple, the yellow extending more or less towards the edge in a series of retuculated markings.
CHELSEA BEAUTY, the most beautiful of the Coleuses; it has deeply and broadly toothed leaves, the mid-rib and principal veins of which are bright crimson lake, between which lie blocks of rich dark velvety maroun, which extend half way up the teeth, and along this portion are bordered with white, the tps being green and forming a pretty outher fringe to the other rich and attractive colours.
CHERUB, the leaves here are small and very deeply pectinately toothed, with an enlarged terminal lobe; the colour is a pale reddish maroun, with the ribs of a darker maroon, the extreme edge being yellow passing here and there to green. Truly elegant from its small size and regular style of cutting.

Pictures and descriptions of new introductions in 1879 from:
'A retail list of new beautiful & rare plants offered by William Bull', No. 154 (1879)
(source: British Museum of National History, London, UK)

1. Coleus 'Firefly'?  
2. Coleus 'Harlequin'?  
3. Coleus 'Magic'?  
4. Coleus 'Sunbeam'?  
"The following exceedingly beautiful varieties have been obtained by fertilizing the best sorts with some attractive and distinct new species, introduced from the Islands of the South Pacific, and are, therefore, of an exceedingly novel character."
AURORA, a most welcome variety, the colours being singularly bright and telling. The leaves are flat, crenated, of a yellowish green hue, with a central blotch of purplish rose colour. It is an exceedingly pretty and attractive variety.
FIREFLY, a bright-looking novelty of very distinct character. It has ovate crenated flat-surfaced leaves, in some cases of a crimson colour, suffused with purple, and having a yellowish green beaded margin; in some leaves the colour is a bright violet rose; extremely showy and effective.
GLOW, a very bright looking variety and quite novel in aspect. The foliage is of a dark velvety crimson colour, the central portion of the leaf rosy carmine, shaded with magenta; the leaves are crenated and narrowly margined with green. It is a very striking and effective sort, remarkable for the richness of its colour.
HARLEQUIN, a most grotesque-looking and very handsome variety. The ground colour is yellow and green, marbled in a very irregular way with ouroke, bronze, and chocolate colour in a variety of shades and tints, and laid on in the most fantastic forms, the plant being altogether very striking and attractibve from this peculiar combination of colouring.
MAGIC, a charming new variety with crenately margined ovate leaves, which are bright green, with a feathered central variegation of pale yellow, suffused with violet rose. This is a very distinct variety, partaking greatly of the character of one of its parents from the South Pacific.
SPARKLER, a variety remarkable for the deep crenatures which fringe the margin of the leaves; colour sparkling; reddish maroun of deep tint, passing into bright rose in the centre; the tips of the crenatures green. It is a richly-coloured and very bright-looking variety.
SUNBEAM, this form is quite dissimilar in colouring from any other at present known. The leaves are of ovate crenate form, and of a fiery reddish tint, suffused with rose. The extremely vivid and bright colours of the foliage of this variety render it very showy and attractive.

Picture and description of Coleus pictus as new plant announced for the first time from:
'A retail list of new beautiful & rare plants offered by William Bull', No. 129 (1877)
(source: British Museum of National History, London, UK)
(This plant played an important role as parent in the first Coleus cultivars.)


This distinct and attractive plant has been introduced from Duke of York Island. Its divers colours are curiously blended and very effective, the leaves, which have a green ground, being more or less but variably flushed with yellow in irregular patches; the leaves are also marked in the direction of the veins with longitudinal bars, varying in size and outline, of a rich chocolate brown, which where it meets the parts flushed with yellow, assumes a reddish-brown hue. The marginal teeth are bordered with chocolate colour. These peculiar markings, and the unusual form of the leaves, give the plant a bizarre and curious appearance.