BULB CHAT by hcj

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									BULB CHAT                                March 2002                              No. 26


In Bulb Chat we try to alert Cape members to what is flowering and where. It is more difficult
for us to offer the same service to members to our north. Furthermore, by the time you read
Bulb Chat that particular flowering is probably over. The value is in noting it for your personal
expeditions the following year. With the weak Rand the opportunity to visit overseas is much
reduced so that internal holidays and expeditions become more attractive and if these are
combined with bulbing another dimension is added. The following is a list of sightings during
the last half of January, all of which are within reach of members to the north:
IN THE GRAHAMSTOWN AREA: Drimia altissima, tall growing suitable for garden culture.
Pink Watsonia pillansii. Scilla thermifolia. Cyrtanthus breviflora (red). Scadoxus puniceus.
Agapanthus praecox. Apodolirion mackenii.
IN THE PORT ST. JOHNS AREA : Gladiolus oppositiflorus. Crocosmia aurea. Agapanthus
comptonii. Scadoxus multiflorus and Gloriosa superba.
IN THE LUSIKISIKI AREA : Tritonia disticha (tangarine) and Gladiolus longicollis
IN THE UMTATA AREA : Gladiolus ochroleucus ( yellow form )
IN THE NGELE MOUNTAINS : Watsonia confusa and Agapanthus campanulatus.
IN THE PORT EDWARD AREA : Gloriosa superba in the coastal sand dunes.
Scadoxus multiflorus – Large colonies in the forest. Brunsvigia grandiflora in the grasslands.
IN THE HILLCREST AREA : Gladiolus cruentus and Cyrtanthus sanguineus.
IN THE VRYHEID AREA :              Brunsvigia natalensis, both red and pink forms. Agapanthus
nutans. Crinum moorei. Watsonia latifolia as well as Watsonia watsonioides.
IN THE CAROLINA AREA : Nerine rehmannii, which looks very much like a Hessea.
Also Crocosmia paniculata, a very tall Crocosmia ( up to 18O cm tall )
IN THE BARBERTON AREA : Agapanthus inapertus. Eucomis montana. Ornithogalum
saundersii. The yellow form of Gloriosa superba. Eucomis pole-evansii, a very tall and
striking form standing 2 m tall.
IN THE SENTINEL AREA : Both Agapanthus campanulatus and A. nutans. Eucomis bicolor,
Eucomis humilis and Eucomis autumnalis – all growing pretty much together.
IN THE COLESBURG AREA : Brunsvigia radulosa.
IN THE RICHMOND AREA : Ammocharis coranica.

Pretty well all of these are visible from the roads. We hope that next year you will be able to
tell us that this list had been useful to you.


I recently found a small blue Moraea flowering in my potline – January/February 2002. I
thought that this could not be normal, but on further investigation with the help of “ The
Moraeas of Southern Africa “ by Peter Goldblatt, I found that it was Moraea pseudospicata.
The corm was collected at Nieuwoudtville during an IBSA excursion about eight years ago.
Moraea pseudospicata is a local endemic of the Nieuwoudtville area. It has a solitary leaf
which has often started dying back at the time of flowering. The pale blue flowers have yellow
nectar guides on the inner and outer tepals. The tepal limbs spread horizontally. The filaments
and the anthers with yellow pollen stick out of the tube ( are exserted ) formed by the tepals.
The flowers open in the late afternoon and fade in the early evening. Flowering time is
November to March.


Those of you who have this book may have been struck by the labels visible beside the plants
in Baines‟ painting of Mr Currie‟s garden on page 152. They were all indigenous plants grown
by Miss Currie and identified by William Keit, whom she later married. He was the Curator of
the Durban Herbarium and Director of the Botanical Gardens. What love will do for Botany or
Botany for love !!!


At the time of writing we are suffering a very hot summer with periodic rain showers. Autumn
seems to be late or missing us. If we have good and early Winter rain the Spring flowering will
be superb. Meanwhile there is very little to be seen and we have been unable to find a suitable
one-day excursion target. We may now have to wait for April or even May before we venture
out again within easy reach of Cape Town. We are, of course, watching the rain in the
Springbok area. We are thinking about a return to the Tankwa in May.


This pamphlet is lavishly illustrated in colour, so much so that we were amazed when the
bookshop told us the price was only R 39.95. The pamphlet has useful identification notes for
each of the 25 species, some data on the better known hybrids and very useful sections on
cultivation and propagation. Not only is it a publication which no grower of Nerines should fail
to have handy but it is sufficiently comprehensive that the average member will not need to
refer to more professionally botanical monographs for most of his or her wants. Since Nerines
are, on the whole, easy to propagate and easy to grow they are becoming among the most
popular bulbous species. Most of them hybridise freely, so IBSA members will have to be very
careful when identifying indigenous species. There already are, and will be more, a
bewildering number of cultivars/hybrids. Seed will need to be thoroughly authenticated. You
will remember that in her excellent talk at our November meeting Rhoda McMaster said that
some specimens in the veld were presenting taxonomic problems. It is well to bear in mind
that evolution is continuously on-going and new species can arise from hybridisation.
We were disappointed by some sloppy historical notes on p. 6 : Nerine sarniensis was being
grown in Paris as early as 1634 and thought to have come from Japan. Morison, who named
and described it in 1680, is blamed for the mistake which is hardly fair since it was not
discovered to be a Cape species until 1772. In the pamphlet he is also debitted with inventing
the shipwreck story. Actually he was „fed‟ the story by Charles Hatton as is set out in IBSA 50.
Morison is also described as a „ royalist „ which is nonsense. He was a lecturer at Oxford
under the Commonwealth and taught, among others, Hatton. After 1660 ( when everybody
suddenly became a royalist for their health ) he was protected by Hatton. Horticultural
historians are excellent at saying who described species and when, but they should tread
warily in the convoluted area of social and political history.


We have had a further communication from Johan Loubser. He has re-checked his authorities:
Peter Goldblatt ( 2 publications ), Goldblatt & Manning, Bond & Goldblatt, Synge, Innes,
Duncan, Jeppe, Du Plessis & Duncan and Doutt. He also saw the flowers displayed by
Barnard ( presumably grown from corms brought from England ) and has himself grown the
species from seed originating from the Observatory, now unfortunately lost.
He is convinced that spotted specimens are contaminated and he will destroy the corms.

There was such a concentration of functions under Paul von Stein that it was impossible to
pass them on in a single package. We have split them up, but it will need further division in the
light of this year‟s experience. Rachel Saunders, as Secretary, will be maintaining the
membership roll and the record of subsciptions assisted by Fred Overmeyer as bookkeeper of
the ledgers. For the present Rachel has allowed her E mail address to continue to be used but
the messages received will be passed to whoever deals with the subject. The Post Box at N1
City will continue to be the only postal address. Telephone enquiries must be sent to the
Chairman at 021-5586537. Regretably he is not bilingual. The rest of the work will be shared
by the Chairman and Vice-chairman. Some of it will be outsourced. The bank account will be
moved to a more convenient place.


There are a few autumn-flowering species of Gladiolus in the Winter-rainfall area of the
western Cape. Gladiolus subcaeruleus is one of the more elusive of these species. Very few
IBSA members grow it at present or have even grown it in the past. I have not seen it at an
IBSA seed sale during the time that I have been an IBSA member ( 1986 ), nor have I recently
seen it on any commercial seed list. What makes it so special – nothing really! Gladiolus
subcaeruleus produces 3 vestigial leaf blades on the single, unbranched, flowering stem. After
flowering the plant produces a solitary foliage leaf from a separate shoot. The foliage leaf
remains green during the winter months. The 3 – 5 pale blue flowers have yellow transverse or
spear-shaped median markings outlined in dark purple on the lower lateral tepals.
Gladiolus subcaeruleus is found on clay soil in the area between Botriver and Riviersonderend
Flowering time is March and April. If any member finds this gladiolus in flower during the next
few months, please let the Chairman know to enable us to try and collect seed this year


We think of these two species as being red which, in most of their ranges, they are. But on
Potberg G. Stefaniae is pink. Potberg was an island in the shallow sea of the latest inundation.
As far as we know there are no specimens between Montagu and Potberg though at one time
there must have been. The pink form of N. sarniensis grows on Lion‟s Head and is, we think,
the origin of the specimens taken to Europe which were flowering in Paris in 1634 and which
were later associated with the Hatton family. Both these forms flower in the last week of March


We had hoped to organise an excursion in February but the hot weather has resulted in little
flowering and somewhat isolated at that. The season of Amaryllids will soon be here.
Remember the Polyxenas, Strumarias, Hesseas and similar in April/May and the Tankwa and
Swartruggens area in May/June. Be prepared to lead an excursion. You do not need to be
knowledgeable about the plants ( there will be somebody in the party who is ) but only to show
where to go. Keep us informed of likely target areas and we will organise the expedition.


The frontispiece of IBSA Bulletin No 49 is of a Brunsvigia sp. nov. This plant has now been
officially described and is known as Brunsvigia elandsmontana. It was discovered in the
Elandsberg Private Nature Reserve in 1994. The flowers are actinomorphic and pink. The only
other Brunsvigia with actinomorphic flowers is Brunsvigia marginata. Two mature bulbs were
given to an IBSA member in July 2000 after they were used by the artist, Clare Linder Smith,
for the painting in Flowering Plants of Africa. , One of these plants flowered in February 2002.

If you do a trip in the area between Swellendam and Albertinia towards the end of March you
could be rewarded by seeing quite a few different species of Cyrtanthus and Gladiolus.
Just past Swellendam at Buffeljagsrivier you could turn off the N2 and along the farmroads
leading towards the mountain you will find both Gladiolus engysiphon and Gladiolus emilae
growing in close proximity. In this area amongst the grass you could also find the sweetly
scented, dark red to maroon tubular flowers of Cyrtanthus odorus. This plant is extremely rare,
so mark the locality for seed collection. A few km further east along the road to Zuurbraak you
might find another Cyrtanthus. This is Cyrtanthus leptosiphon. This Cyrtanthus has pale
creamy/pink funnel shaped flowers. Cyrtanthus leptosophon grows along with Gladiolus
engysiphon here on the road to Zuurbraak.
South of Albertinia, towards the sea, you will find up to 1 meter tall flowering spikes of
Gladiolus vaginatus growing amongst the restios. On each spike you will only find about 3 – 5
open flowers, but some flowers might already be over and others are only coming into bud.
This is the area where you might also find the elusive Cyrtanthus ochroleucus. It was found
growing in the sand next to restios in this area in 1998. Before that it was only known to come
from north of Riversdal. This Cyrtanthus has 2 – 4 tubular dull yellow flowers.
To the north of Albertinia along the farm roads there are more Gladiolus vaginatus as well as
Gladiolus bilineatus. At this time Gladiolus stellatus is still in leaf in this area.
Coming back to Cape Town now via Still Bay you could be lucky to find the bright red
Cyrtanthus fergusoniae.
If you return to Cape Town via Bredasdorp you could look for and find the beautiful Cyrtanthus
guthrieae with large bright red flowers. In this area you are sure to find the more common
Cyrtanthus leucanthus with cream coloured, sweetly scented, tubular flowers. On Potberg the
pink form of Gladiolus stefaniae can be seen.
This is a trip worth doing because you will also see Brunsvigia orientalis, Haemanthus
coccineus as well as H. Sanguineus. Crossyne guttata will be found on the flats and Nerine
humilis in the areas to the north of the N2 . When coming back via Bredasdorp you will also
find Strumaria gemmata with pale lemon star-shaped flowers. To see this small amaryllid you
will have to walk in the veld.


We came across something which may have no bearing on bulb culture but which may be
worth remembering. It arose from research into the virus epidemic which is killing off frogs in
England. It was found that many frogs had a high concentration of copper which destroyed
their immune system. This was caused by them eating decomposing snails killed by blue snail
bait pellets. The blue ( from copper ) is designed to render the pellets unattractive to birds.
Copper does not “ go away “. It leaches into the soil. In the form of Copper Sulphate
( Bordeaux mixture etc ) it is a powerful fungicide though it may result in the scorching of
leaves and tender shoots. Blue pellets may, in fact, protect you from fungus infection but do
not scatter it too thickly near bulbs – in any case a wasteful practise.


At the seed sale there were about 195 different species available. Of some of the species
there were only 2 or 3 packets available. A few packets of Amaryllid seed were left over .
These we have to dispose of as soon as possible because they are going to start sprouting
and have to be planted as soon as possible. Please contact our Chairman at 5586537 if you
are interested in Scadoxus puniceus , Crinum bulbispemum, Nerine krigei or Haemanthus
sanguineus. To all members who so kindly donated their precious seeds and bulbs\corms – a
big Thank You. We also have to thank all those who bought the seeds and bulbs\corms that
were available.
BULB CHAT                                 May 2002                               No. 27
You will have realised that Bulb Chat 26 was a collaborative effort if only from the use of the
personal pronoun „I‟ in places instead of the editorial „we‟. This is a developement we have
long wished for and can only improve Bulb Chat. If one member can do it so can others.
Let us have some more notes which can be published verbatim without editorial re-writing.

We regret to have to inform members that Dr Robert (Bob) Stobie passed away suddenly at
the beginning of May. We extend our deepest condolences to Mary and their children.


There are a lot of IBSA members who grow Babiana. We are now starting to get more and
more requests for information on Babianas, even from abroad. At present the Babiana revision
dates back to the late Fifties. It was written by G Joyce Lewis. A new revision is long overdue.
The time has come for us at IBSA to start putting pressure on the Iridaceae specialist(s) at the
NBI to consider this demand for knowledge. The Botanists have discovered a few new species
during the past few years. We will hopefully see some of these species in the long awaited
“Bulb Book”.


During March 3 IBSA members went on a daytrip to the Napier area to collect seed of
Cyrtanthus carneus. The plants were found growing amongst Pine trees. They were not in
flower any more and a few slightly green seed pods could be collected. Cyrtanthus carneus
has a restricted distribution near the coast in the Caledon and Bredasdorp districts. The plants
grow in clumps in well drained sandy soil. The spectacular tubular, pendulous flowers are red
to orange to even a flesh-pink. The flowers are borne on a tall , green scape ( flowering stem
or peduncle). The leaves are usually present at flowering time. ( December to February )
There are two other Cyrtanthus species which are closely allied to Cyrtanthus carneus –
Cyrtanthus obliquus from the Eastern Cape and Cyrtanthus herrei from the Richtersveld.
Cyrtanthus carneus is notoriously difficult to keep in cultivation. The correct amount of
watering at the right time seems to be critical. Success obviously also depends on drainage.


After the request in the previous Bulb Chat about this elusive little Gladiolus it was reported
that flowering specimens were seen at the Southern end of the Van Der Stell Pass on Easter
Weekend. It is hoped that the member who made this report will be able to collect some seed
for distribution amongst IBSA members.


IBSA was founded at a meeting held at the house of Mr J. E. Retief in Bellville on the 15 th of
April 1961. Mrs M. Thomas was elected Chairperson and Mr J. W. Loubser Secretary.

We wish to congratulate IBSA member Dr Alison van der Merwe. After many years of hard
work she attained her PH.D in Botany at the University of Stellenbosch, during March 2002.
The title of her dissertation was : A Biosystematic Study of the 7 Minor Genera of the
Hyacinthaceae. We are going to be using the results of this work for years to come when
identifying Massonias, Daubenyas and Polyxenas. Thank you Alison.
For those who do not know – Alison is the daughter of Gordon and Barbara Summerfield.

This is the time of the year to look for these star-shaped yellow flowers. Along the road at the
back of the Nieuwoudtville reserve you can find Empodium flexile until early June. In the town
of Nieuwoudtville and further to the south Empodium namaquensis is in full flower during May.
Empodium namaquensis is heavily scented. In cultivation they tend to flower at intervals
during April and May. When you come within 1O m of a pot with flowering plants you are
struck by a heady , sweet lemon scent. When it comes to scent Empodium namaquensis is on
par with other heavily scented plants such as Gladiolus orchidiflorus, Freesia refracta, Moraea
ciliata and Lachenalia comptonii.
In the Southern Cape Empodium plicatum can be found flowering from April to June.The
yellow star-like flowers are green on the reverse side of the outer tepals.
Empodium veratrifolium grows on the granite outcrops near Vredenburg. The broad pleated
leaves are present at flowering time – May to June. These plants grows in the cracks of the
rocks in naturally formed compost.


In Bulb Chat 26 we maligned Dr Morison. He was not just a „fair-weather‟ royalist. Born in
162O, he obtained his PhD at Aberdeen. He continued his studies on the Continent
 (MD, Angers 1648) and in 1649 was Physician and Botanist to the Duke of Orleans at Blois.
He returned to England in 166O as Senior Physician and Botanist to Charles II. He was
appointed Professor of Botany at Oxford in 1669 and published his Historia Plantarum
Oxoniensis in 168O. He died in an accident in 1683. To tidy up the other characters in the
story Christopher Hatton, Governor of Guernsey, died in 167O and was succeeded by his son
whose first wife (Lambert‟s daughter) was killed in an explosion in 1672. Hatton went on to
hold several appointments and was created a Viscount in 1683.


Cameron Taswell-Yates tells us that although his plants grow well he seldom gets flowers.The
tender leaves are stripped by birds and he thinks this prevents the bulbs from getting
adequate nutrients to support flowering. Have any other members experienced this ?


At the AGM in February Carol Turnley-Jones was awarded Honorary Life Membership in
recognition of her very active participation in IBSA for 33 years. She was presented with a
painting by Estelle Byrne. Paul von Stein was presented with a book on the tuberous
Pelargoniums in gratitude for his many years of Secretaryship.


Ferozah Konrad of the Compton DNA Laboratory is currently working on Amaryllidae. She has
kindly agreed to be our speaker on 29 June. This will be the first time we have direct contact
with the new DNA laboratory and no doubt members will have many questions to ask about it.


A member has asked about the position of Massonia now that Daubenya has been sorted out.
So many botanists have had a dabble at it that probably no two agree. The only reply we can
make is that here the following species are recognised at present : M depressa, echinata,
jasminiflora, pustulata, pygmaea and sessiliflora. M. pygmaea is recognised in two subspecies
being subsp pygmaea and subsp kamiesbergensis. There will probably be at least one further
publication about the genus in the foreseeable future. The list given here hovers between the
Jessop revision of 1976 and the excessive splitting of species by the Muller-Doblies in 1997.
Some of the names which may still be in use in nurseries are : grandiflora and latifolia are now
in M depressa; bolusiae is now in M echinata and bowkeri in M jasminiflora; heterandra is now
in M pygmaea. The angustifolia of Jessop is now in Daubenya marginata while the angustifolia
of the younger Linnaeus is now in M echinata. M marginata and M rugulosa are now both
Daubenya marginata.


There is no doubt whatsoever that there is interaction between specimens, nowadays called
sociobotany. You will get more and stronger germination if you plant seed in clumps and not
disturb the clump until after the second year cycle. An alternative is to sow the seed around
the parent plant but in that case you must beware of the seedlings becoming choked in the
second year, particularly in the case of true bulbs which grow wider year by year.


If you look back at the reports of plants displayed at monthly meetings( if you have kept them )
you will see that the very great majority are species which grow in clay, dolerite or shale. One
reason is that the majority of our collectables do grow there but it is not the only or the most
significant reason. We hear of species which are difficult to grow or which die off after one or
two seasons. These are almost always the species that grow in sandstone. Members are too
inclined to use a single potting mix. That mix is invariably a neutral one of pH 6 to 7.
Sandstone ( true fynbos ) species should be grown in true sandstone with a minimal amount of
humus mixed in. We are surrounded by sandstone around greater Cape Town and it is not
difficult to collect a bag of naturally weathered sand or fine grit – not water washed sand from
river margins – that has had most of its characteristic leached out. If you do this you will not
find fynbos species difficult to grow.


This is the time of the year when many of the 23 species of Strumaria flower. Strumarias are
closely related to Hesseas. To differentiate between these two genera you have to look at the
open flowers from the front. If the filaments of the 6 stamens are entirely free from the style,
you are looking at a Hessea. In Strumarias the filaments are touching the style and the style is
usually thickened proximally. Hessea flowers are actinomorphic and stellate while the
actinomorphic flowers of Strumaria could be stellate or funnel-shaped. Reports have come in
that Strumaria tenella ssp tenella is flowering in Nieuwoudtville as well as to the north west of
the town. Strumaria truncata has been seen in flower along the N7 from the Garies area
northwards. In the area to the west of Kamieskroon the deep pink colour forms of Strumaria
truncata had been seen. Under normal circumstances Strumaria truncata has pendulous
flowers. Populations from the Steinkopf area north of Springbok do not have pendulous
flowers. 2 specimens collected there many years ago have already flowered and seeded in
cultivation this year.
Seed ( 4 ) of Strumaria pygmaea was collected by Dr John Manning along the Kliprand Road
in 1999 and grown in Cape Town. All 4 these plants have come into flower during the last
week of April. The flowers are white, stellate and extremely small. Each plant had 3 or 4
flowers and all the plants flowered at the same time. Total plant length at present is about 5cm
To have found these plants in the natural succulent vegetation was a major accomplishment.
At the April monthly meeting Strumaria watermeyeri, Strumaria chaplinii, Strumaria truncata
and Strumaria salteri were shown in full flower.

IBSA members often have both these species in their collections and when they start flowering
early in the year confusion could set in.
Lachenalia rubida has a coastal distribution and grows on flats and dunes while Lachenalia
bulbifera also grows along the coast but can grow on rocky outcrops. The one or two leaves of
both species could be unmarked or even heavily spotted. Both species have pendulous
cylindrical flowers. The most important differentiating feature is that the inner segments of the
flowers of Lach rubida is about 15% - 2O% longer than the outer segments. In Lach bulbifera
the inner segments are only slightly longer than the outer segments. The other important sign
to look for is the colour of the tips of the inner segments. Lach bulbifera have green tips
flanked by two purple zones while Lach rubida have purple tips with white markings.


IBSA members are always on the look out for sources of bulbs and corms. During April a sale
of rare plants was held at Bishopscourt. Those who made the effort to get there were
rewarded by being able to buy the following : Scadoxus membranaceus and Scadoxus
multiflorus, Cyrtanthus falcatus, C elatus and C sanguineus, a few different Agapanthus
species, including A coddii, Nerine masonorium, N humilis and N sarniensis. Jim Holmes also
had Hesperantha coccinea – previously known as Schizostylis coccinea – for sale , in the
normal scarlet red, in pink as well as in white.
A quick trip to Worcester to the Karoo Botanical Garden was also extremely fruitful. They had
the following for sale towards the end of April : Various Agapanthus species, Brunsvigia
bosmaniae, B josephinae and B orientalis, Haemanthus coccineus, H sanguineus and
Haemanthus amarylloides. They also had Nerine humilis and N sarniensis. The one that I
found most pleasing to see was Strumaria unguiculata. They also had Crossyne flava and
Crossyne guttata. Cyrtanthus montanus was also available. Amongst the Iridaceae the
following was seen – Babiana patula and Babiana stricta as well as Gladiolus tristis.
In the rockery near the entrance to the shop Hessea brevifolia was in full flower. A few Nerine
humilis plants were also coming into bud.Unfortunately they are not open over week-ends.
Brunsvigia marginata, Nerine sarniensis and Nerine humilis could all be seen from the road
while driving to Worcester from Cape Town over the Du Toit‟s Kloof Pass. Stop at the western
end of the old tunnel and botanize about 1OOm back as well as along the slopes of the tunnel.


The optimum temperature for the germination of most seeds is close to room temperature,
although the seeds of plants adapted to colder or warmer climates can germinate at lower or
higher temperatures, respectively. The seeds of some plants in temperate climates often
require a wet period that is followed by several weeks of a cold period before they will
germinate. These conditions activate chemicals in the seed that stimulate germination. For
example, the seeds of apple trees and pines can be artificially induced to germinate by wetting
them and placing them in a refrigerator. This process is called stratification.
We use this same process to stimulate flowering in certain bulbs. It is well known that tulips
that had been “treated” flower better than”untreated” tulips. Try putting your Daubenyas in the
refrigerator at 5 degrees Celsius for about 5 weeks, from the end of March. You will be
rewarded with superb flowering towards the end of August or beginning of September.


This rare Haemanthus from the Steinkopf area in Namaqualand is rarely seen and does not
flower well at all in cultivation. Reports have come in that Haemanthus namaquensis flowered
well this year and that plants were seen full of seed during April.
BULB CHAT                                JUNE 2002                               No. 28


A new Clivia has been described in the latest Bothalia. The plant is called Clivia mirabilis.
The genus Clivia now consists of 5 species, namely C. miniata, C. nobilis, C. gardenii,
C. caulescens and now also C. mirabilis. The previously known 4 species all occur in coastal
and inland Afromontane forest from the Eastern Cape through KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and
Mpumalanga to the Soutpansberg in the Northern Province. Clivia mirabilis is apparently
confined to the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve to the south of Nieuwoudtville. The area is
characterized by a semi-arid Mediterranean climate with a strictly winter rainfall regime –
exactly the opposite climatic conditions experienced by the other four species in the genus.
The plants are evergreen and up to 1,2 m tall. The root system is massive – up to 0,7 m in
diameter and horizontally spreading. The dull green leaves are stiffly erect, strap-shaped,
O,6 – 1,2 m long and 30 – 50 mm wide. The base of the leaves are maroon flushed. The
inflorescence is umbel-like and drooping. There are between 20 and 48 flowers at a time on
the inflorescence. The flowers are actinomorphic, bicolored ( orange/yellow ) and tubular.
Interestingly, the drooping pedicels are orange-red when the plant is in flower and turns green
when fruiting.
The question obviously arises – How could a Clivia have evolved about 8OO km away from
it”s closest relative? The answer lies in the fact that there is enough evidence to suggest that
at some stage in the past there were forests stretching from near the Western coast via the
Cape to the Eastern parts of South Africa. Clivia mirabilis has survived the changes that have
taken place by adapting the seed maturation period (much shorter) as well as the seedling and
germination biology to the arid Mediterranean climate. A miracle Clivia indeed.


We often refer to substrate rock of particular soils. Soils are formed by the erosion of rock and
the addition of vegetable matter. Rocks which are already the accretion of nutrient or
potentially nutrient substances are obviously most likely to provide soils in which plants can
grow. These are sedimentary rocks : sandstone, conglomerate, limestone and shale. Igneous
rocks ( solidified from semi-molten state) are only valuable to us in that they form a base on
which other soils and water can accumulate. They include granite and basalt. Much the same
applies to metamorphic rocks which are rocks which have been transformed structurally or
chemically by heat, pressure or chemical fluids. Depending on the chemical factor these may
support very specialised soils and therefore specialised plants. Usually the plant has learnt to
tolerate the chemical rather than actually to need it. Examples are gneiss, schist, slate and
marble. Sand and clay are primarily measures of particle size, not of composition. Clay is a
soil which can form a paste with water and hardens when dry. Dolerite, common in some of
our bulb areas, is an igneous rock softer than granite, and therefore weathers more easily,
contributing to soil. Sand does not form a paste with water but tends to repel ( drain ) it, but
water may be trapped between the particles, at least for a time.


According to geologists the earth is between 344O and 455O million years old. At some early
stage the earth was just a molten mass at an excessively high temperature. Gradually it
cooled. According to fossil records, life was already somewhat advanced 6OO million years
ago taking the form of bacteria, fungi, blue-green algae and some primitive invertebrates.
There is evidence of life in the sedimentary rocks formed about 2 OOO million years ago.
Geological time scale is divided into 3 Eras – The Paleozoic(oldest), Mesozoic and Cenozoic.
Each Era is divided into successively smaller units of time called Periods, Epochs and Ages.
The relative age of rocks is determined by their position in a stratigraphic sequence.

If we ignore the Autumn-flowering hysteranthous Gladioli, the first Winter-flowering Gladiolus
to flower in our pots is either Gladiolus guthriei or Gladiolus priorii. Gladiolus guthriei now
includes specimens that used to be called Gladiolus odoratus. These plants flower from April
to June and have up to 13 clove-scented flowers on a spike. The flowers are adapted for
pollination by small, night-flying moths. Gladiolus guthriei can be seen flowering along Bains
Kloof Pass as well as along Dasklip Pass, above Porterville. It also grows in profusion on the
Gifberg, but here you have to walk to see it. Gladiolus priorii, previously known as
Homoglossum priorii, is relatively common on granite outcrops from Saldanha Bay in the west
to as far as Hermanus in the east. Flowering of these plants with their bright red flowers and
long perianth tube begins in April and they could be seen flowering until July. Gladiolus priorii
is adapted for pollination by sunbirds – red flower, elongated flower tube with a wide cylindrical
upper part, exserted anthers and a large volume of nectar of low sugar concentration.

The first Lachenalias to start flowering in our pots would include Lachenalia bulbifera, L rubida,
L viridiflora, L congesta and L pusilla. Lachenalia bulbifera and L rubida we discussed in the
previous Bulb Chat. Lachenalia viridiflora is found amongst the granite outcrops at Saldanha
Bay and Vredenburg. It grows in the humus-rich shallow depressions on the granite outcrops.
L viridiflora flowers from May to July. The colour of the flowers vary from green to blue-green
to turquoise. A practical point when growing Lachenalia viridiflora is to grow them in as little
shade as possible. They tend to elongate very quickly when grown in shade and the
inflorescence would then fall over. Lachenalia congesta is a dwarf species from the Calvinia,
Sutherland and Middelpos districts. It has 2 dark green leaves with a distinctive maroon
margin. The inflorescence is very dense and the small flowers are yellow to green. The flowers
are scented. Lachenalia pusilla is an unusual Lachenalia. It has erect white flowers at ground
level and a rosette of prostrate leaves. Lachenalia pusilla looks more like a Polyxena and to
prove this affinity it tends to elongate the peduncle during the fruiting stage , similar to all
Polyxenas. Flowering time is from April to June and these small plants are found growing in
sand from Nieuwoudtville to as far east as Swellendam.
From April to June many members might have a white-flowered Freesia in their pots. Although
most of us might think that it is Freesia alba it certainly is not.This plant is in fact Freesia
caryophyllacea. This Freesia also includes what used to be known as Freesia elimensis. The
flowers are white with yellow markings, on the lowermost, or all three lower tepals. The
reverse of the tepals may be flushed with purple. The traditional concept of Freesia
caryophyllacea is that the leaves are prostrate, but in cultivation and in shade these plants
most often develop fully erect leaves. Some specimens are highly scented while others hardly
have any scent. Freesia alba flowers later – from June to September. The white flowers are
nearly actinomorphic and heavily scented. Freesia alba grows on sandy or stony soils near the
coast, while Freesia caryophyllacea grows on clay as well as limestone and in Renosterveld.


In a book published in 1943 the author wrote : “ Though the natural environment of any plant
gives valuable hints on its cultivation, it is by no means an infallible guide to that art. Even if
we were to reproduce it in every detail – temperature, light, soil, water,atmospheric conditions,
plant associations – the imitation would not guarantee success “ He also wrote : “ There is
another way in which natural environment may lead us astray. Bulbs are found in nature at
almost any depth. The distance from the surface is often taken as a guide in planting,
apparently on the assumption that the bulb has reached it in obedience to some inviolable law.
No account is taken of landslides, silting, flooding or anything else which may have increased
or decreased the thickness of the surface soil”.
In the 6O years since that was published nothing has changed it‟s essential correctness.

The scientific names of plants are either Latin words or words that have been latinized from
some other language, most often Greek. Each species of plant has only one correct scientific
name, peculiar to that species alone. This is called a binomial and consists of a generic name
and a specific epithet. For example, Freesia alba is the binomial for the white Freesia
discussed above, Freesia being the generic name, and alba the specific epithet. The specific
epithet is therefore the second part of a binomial. It is however, never correct, to use the
specific epithet alone to designate a particular species. It must always be combined with a
generic name to form the binomial for that species.
Specific epithets are formed from nouns, adjectives, participles, etc. , and by combining such
words with a variety of prefixes and suffixes. Every Latin or latinized noun has gender, either
masculine, feminine or neuter. In most cases, each gender is indicated by a different ending.
Most nouns ending in –us are masculine, nouns ending in –a are nearly always feminine,
while those ending in –um are neuter. An adjective or other modifier must agree in gender with
the noun it modifies. While a noun will have only one nominative ending depending upon its
gender, a modifier will often have three different endings, depending upon the gender of the
word it is modifying. Thus the Latin adjective for “ hairy “ appears with three different endings
as it modifies the nouns Gladiolus, Romulea and Vaccinium, respectively masculine, feminine
and neuter : Gladiolus hirsutus, Romulea hirsuta and Vaccinium hirsutum.
The names of persons are sometimes used as specific epithets, generally to honor or
commemorate the person who first discovered a particular species. In such cases the specific
epithet usually has a genitive rather than a nomnative ending.
A specific epithet taken from the name of a man should be formed as follows:
 1. If the name ends in any vowel except a ( e,i,o,u and also y ) the letter i is added to the
       end of the name, e.g. Gladiolus guthriei – named in honour of Francis Guthrie , a British
       botanist and mathematician who made many important plant collections in the southern
       Cape. Another example is Gladiolus martleyi , an autumn-flowering species named in
       honour of J. F. Martley , a bulb-grower who collected the Gladiolus and brought it to the
       attention of the botanists at Kirstenbosch in the early 193Os.
 2. If the name ends in an a , the letter e is added : balansae for Mr Balansa.
 3. If the name ends in a consonant, ii is added : Gladiolus priorii was named in honour of
       Richard Prior, a British medical doctor and amateur naturalist who collected actively in
       South Africa in the years 1846 to 1848. If the name ends in -er, only one i is added,
       which is an exeption : Gladiolus salteri – named in honour of the amateur botanist,
       Captain T. M. Salter who made the type collection of this Gladiolus near Springbok in
 4. If a name is used as an adjective, it must agree in case and gender with the genus it
       modifies : Gladiolus mortonius – named after Mr Morton who sent plants of this species
       to Great Britain, where they were flowered and the type illustration was made.
       Ornithogalum dregeanum is the feminine form – named after plant collector Drege.
       Lachenalia barkeriana – named after Miss W. F. Barker, former Curator of the Compton
       Herbarium at Kirstenbosch and possibly the most knowledgeable person ever on the
       genus Lachenalia.
 5. If a woman‟s name is used in the substantive form as an epithet, the ending will be the
       feminine genitive singular for that word : Gladiolus emiliae – named after Emily Ferguson
       an active plant collector in the Riversdale and Swellendam areas in the 192Os and
       193Os. Another example is Gladiolus mostertiae – named in honour of Aletta Johanna
       Mostert, of the farm Claudskraal on the Bokkeveld escarpment near Nieuwoudtville. She
       sent the first recorded specimens of this species to the N.B.G. at Kirstenbosch in 192O.
In future months we will discuss some of the people that plants are named after in more detail.
We will also look at other factors which are used or taken into consideration when naming
plants – colour of flowers or fruit, shape of leaf, discoverer of the species or place of discovery.
Names of plant parts are frequently used in combination with prefixes and suffixes – biflorus.

Duthiastrum is a monotypic genus. The only species is Duthiastrum linifolium. These plants
grow in the north-eastern parts of the Northern Cape, as well as in the North-West Province
and northern Free State. Duthiastrum is closely related to Tritonia and Sparaxis. The flowers
are long-tubed and yellow. The flowers appear consecutively. Two specimens brought back
from the Northern Cape by Dr John Manning in 2OOO started flowering on the 6 th of April.The
last flower was seen on the 11 th of June. The flowers were not hand pollinated and no seed
was formed. On the 16 th of June a careful count revealed the remains of 36 flowers on the
one plant and 12 on the other plant. What makes a plant flower 36 times in about 7O days?
Is it waiting for pollination to take place? Would it stop flowering if the first flower was
pollinated? We know that the onset of flowering is stimulated by the length of the days. We get
what is known as Short-day plants and Long-day plants. Plants that flower in the Spring are
Long-day plants – They need the lengthening of the days to start flowering. Duthiastrum must
be Short-day plants, because flowering started and continued as the days were shortening.
Reliance on the perception of day length by the leaves to control and initiate flowering is called
photoperiodism. There are obviously other factors which also play a roll in the initiation of
flowering such as the plant hormones Gibberellins and Auxins as well as Ethylene. There are
both stimulatory and inhibitory factors which play a roll here. The next question of course is
whether the same factors play a roll in continuous flowering as seen in Duthiastrum.


Plant hormones are organic compounds made in one part of a plant and transported to
another part of the plant, where they elicit a response. Plant hormones are active at small
concentrations. Plant hormones and the responses that they elicit have the following
characteristics :
a) Although a hormone may have some characteristic effects, it also has many other
     effects. That is, a single hormone can elicit many different responses.
b) The responses elicited by a hormone depend on many factors, including the presence of
     other hormones, the amount of hormone present, nonhormonal factors and the sensitivity
     of the tissue to the hormone.
c) Hormonal responses change under different conditions and in different plants.
d) Several hormones can influence a single aspect of growth and development.
e) Responses elicited by plant hormones probably result from changing ratios of hormones
     rather than from the presence or absence of any one hormone .
AUXIN stimulates cellular elongation, differentiation of vascular tissue, fruit development,
formation of adventitious roots and the production of Ethylene. The most active naturally
occurring auxin is Indoleacetic Acid (IAA). Synthetic auxins are used extensively in modern
GIBBERELLINS stimulate extensive growth of intact plants, the transition from juvenile to adult
growth, fruit formation and germination of some cereal grains.
CYTOKININS stimulate cellular division, expansion of cotyledons and growth of lateral buds.
Cytokinins also delay senescence( a collective term for the processes contributing to the age-
induced decline and ultimate death of a plant or plant part) of detached leaves and, in
combination with IAA, may influence formation of roots and shoots.
ETHYLENE is a gaseous hormone that influences fruit ripening, abscission( the shedding of
leaves or fruit by a plant ), sex expression and the radial expansion of cells.
ABSCISIC ACID ( ABA ) is an inhibitor that causes stomata to close, affects dormancy of
some seeds and, in general, counteracts the stimulatory effects of other hormones.
Many botanists think that plant hormones are necessary for, but do not control, plant growth
and development. According to this perspective, a plant‟s response to a hormone is not
determined by the amount of hormone present, but rather by the sensitivity of the tissue to the
BULB CHAT                                  JULY 2002                                No. 29


Gladiolus hyalinus : excerpt from a field guide 1926 : -
“ A flower which has adopted most thoroughly the through-lighting plan. Viewed from the
standpoint of an erect human being the flowers are dull and inconspicuous ; but they are
remarkable for the transparency of the lower portion of the broad petal which forms the roof of
the flower. Through this the sunlight shines. Stoop down and look into this flower when the sun
is behind it. You will be gazing into a miniature scene as brilliant as the cleverest stage artist
puts on. Adapt your sense of magnitude and you are in a brilliant and cunningly devised
Temple of the Sun.”
Now an excerpt from a field guide 1997 :-
“ Flowers funnel-shaped, mottled yellowish brown, upper tepal translucent.”


The synoptic review of Babiana, including descriptions of „ new species „, is in progress
targeted for publication in 2OO3. Another work in progress is a bulb book for the Summer
Rainfall Region. Rumour has it that the publishers will only accept it if the Cape Bulb
Encyclopedia sells well and it does not look as if that will be published before about
November. We also think the revision of Spiloxene is nearing completion. We hope it will
include the Australian species but have no firm information on that except that we believe they
have been accepted into the genus. We think there will soon be a publication on Tritoniopsis –
perhaps in July.


The expert on fragrances is expected from Switzerland this spring and particularly wants to
see Gladiolus watermeyeri in situ. If you come across a colony please notify Dr J. Manning
( 021 – 799 8660) or Andries de Villiers ( 021 – 558 6537), both of whom will be in touch
with him.
Gladiolus watermeyeri is one of the most sought after species of the genus Gladiolus.
Growers worldwide are always looking for seed of this plant. The seeds are pinkish to reddish
brown and unusually large. No other Gladiolus has seeds like this, which makes it very easy to
identify when sowing. These low growing plants are highly fragrant. The flowers are dull
mauve, brownish or green. The dorsal tepal is strongly hooded and translucent, while the
upper lateral tepals are veined with maroon or pink. Members who have come along on IBSA
excursions have seen G watermeyeri to the south of Nieuwoudtville along the road to the
Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve. There is also a thriving colony on the top of the Gifberg.
Gladiolus watermeyeri was named after E. B. Watermeyer, a farmer and land surveyor of the
Nieuwoudtville district, who collected this plant in 1917. This was not the first collection of this
plant. That honour goes to J. F. Drege, who had already made his collection in 1831.
Mrs H.M.L. Bolus described the species in 1927. At that time the corms collected and sent in
by E.B. Watermeyer were still in cultivation at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.


A UK member reports that his lemon-scented empodium, originally from Melmoth (Natal) is
markedly light sensitive. On a dull day when the glasshouse temperature reached 26,7 deg
the flower did not open. The following day was sunny but cold and windy. The flower opened
but closed again when the sun moved off it. His Moraea ochroleuca ( It was collected as
Homeria ochroleuca and our member prefers the old name ) survived the winter in the garden
at the foot of a south facing wall and flowered.

Dr. John Manning has responded to the information about Duthiastrum linifolium that
appeared in Bulb Chat No 28 and has answered some of the question that were raised.
He writes: The large number of flowers that the writer records on his plants is most interesting.
This facility is a function of the particular structure of the inflorescence in this genus (an
inflorescence type, incidentally, that has evolved several times among other acaulescent
species in several genera, including Ixia and Hesperantha). The inflorescence in Duthiastrum
is highly branched with only one flower at the tip of each branch. Obviously, as in many annual
plants, favourable growing conditions will extend the life of the plant, allowing further
branching to occur and thereby increasing the number of flowers that appear. This is in sharp
contrast to other species in which the inflorescence is an unbranched spike. In these species
flowering can continue only until all the viable buds have opened on the spike. In her
investigations of the inflorescence of Duthiastrum, Miriam de Vos illustrates a plant with 10
buds but 36 is a wonderful number. It is possible that pollination would have curtailed the
number of flowers that appeared, much in the way that removing sweetpea flowers extends
the flowering period of the plants by delaying depletion of the plants reserves. Turning now to
flowering and day length I am afraid that I am less impressed by the extrapolations. The writer
neglects to mention a third class of plants, those that are day-neutral. In this group, flowering
is independent of day length. I strongly suspect that the majority of our bulbs fall into this
category. As evidence I cite my pots, which contain various amaryllids, hyacinths and irids,
and which are located on my verandah where they are exposed to light throughout the night
from my outside lamp. In day-sensitive plants it is the length of the dark period which
determines flowering, not the length of the light period. Breaking a long dark period with short
bursts of light, for instance, will prevent flowering in a short-day plant. My pots, therefore, live
under constant long-day (=short-night) conditions yet the plants flower regularly at the
appropriate seasons.


The genus Oxalis is distributed world-wide, with most of the eight hundred species occurring in
South America where they are sub-shrubs or herbs. There are more than 2OO species of
Oxalis in South Africa, where they occur mostly in the winter rainfall region of the Western
Cape. There are however 16 species that have a wider distribution in South Africa.
Oxalis species are deciduous and either winter- or summer- growing. The bulb is usually
deep-seated and the plants are either stemmed or stemless. The flowers are radially
symmetric with five petals forming the corolla and five sepals forming the calyx. Compare this
with our well known Monocots which have six petals and six sepals.
In South Africa the bulbs of several species are used as food by the indigenous peoples. The
bulbs have either to be dried for a few days or roasted well to render them edible. The raw
bulbs of some species are used medicinally.
Oxalis pes-caprae and Oxalis caprina are commonly known and are both declared weeds.
Oxalis hirta is an unusual species in that some specimens have a long yellow tube while
others have only a short tube. Tepal colours are lilac, magenta or white. The long tubed type
was flowering at Gifberg in mid April this year.


The excursion scheduled for early June fell through because of sickness, but a botanist
visiting IBSA‟s target area about that time reported all flowering either late or reduced because
of late rains. However, although very few Moraea speciosa were seen in flower, there were
literally hundreds of Tritonia florentiae and Haemanthus tristis in strong bloom. Tritonia
florentiae has bright yellow flowers with a bit of red in the throat. They are small plants with a
short hidden stem. It is a rarity in cultivation. Only a few of the as yet un-named Babiana were
seen. There had been sheep on the ridge where they grow and everything had been heavily
cropped. No flowering Lachenalia aurioliae were reported, perhaps also victims of sheep.


Also in early June a quite unusually strong flowering occured of Ixia acaulis. The bright yellow
and highly fragrant flowers carpetted the ridge on which it grows in the Knersvlakte. Reports
both local and from the UK speak of success as pot culture.
This small little Ixia only came to the attention of the Botanists in the early 199O‟s. It was
found growing in rock cracks on limestone ridges in the Knersvlakte. It has a short
underground stem, with single, bright yellow, actinomorphic flowers.


I have always mistrusted common names which seemed to me to be liable to change and to
be very local. Perhaps I was wrong. In a field guide of 1926 there are “ Large Brown
Afrikaners”, “Brown Afrikaners” and “Small Brown Afrikaners”. The names were not new. The
Brown Afrikaner – Large also appears in a 19O6 book on South African language usage. The
same terms are in the Goldblatt and Manning revision, which seems pretty permanent. But the
1926 guide shows the Large Brown Afrikaner as Gladiolus grandis, the Brown Afrikaner as
Gladiolus maculatus and the Small Brown Afrikaner as Gladiolus tenellus. The descriptions
(and paintings) are exactly correct. Now the 1926 G. grandis is G liliaceus and the G tenellus
is in fact G hyalinus.Only G maculatus is unchanged. Score 2 to common names and 1 to
scientific names!!!
I was led to this comparison by finding 2 Glad. maculatus in flower at the base of the taller Da
Gama Cross in the Cape Nature Reserve on 17th June. One was so strongly coloured that it
might be described as brown and magenta with the spots golden. The other was yellow with
faint red markings. The 1926 field guide warned me of such colour variation.


The following is more information on the concept of photoperiodism.
Day-neutral plants flower without regard to photoperiod; that is, daylength has no effect on
their flowering. Examples of Day-neutral plants include roses, sunflowers and many weeds.
Short-day plants flower only if light periods are shorter than some critical length. For example,
ragweed plants flower only when exposed to 14 hours or less of light per day. Because of their
light requirement, Short-day plants usually flower in the Autumn. Asters, dahlias and
chrysanthemums are Short-day plants.
Long-day plants usually flower in the Spring or early Summer. They flower only if light periods
are longer than a critical length, which is usually 9 – 16 hours. For example, wheat plants
flower only when light periods exceed 14 hours. Lettuce, radish and iris are Long-day plants.
Intermediate-day plants flower only when exposed to days of intermediate length; they grow
vegetatively if exposed to days that are either too long or too short. Sugarcane is an example
of an Intermediate–day plant.
It was proven by Hamner and Bonner that the length of the Light period was, in fact,
unimportant. Plants flowered only if the dark period exceeded 8 hours, regardless of the length
of the light period. It was also discovered that flowering did not occur if the dark period was
interrupted by a 1-minute pulse of light, even if the regular light period remained less than 15
hours. Hamner and Bonner thus found that flowering requires a specific period of uninterrup-
ted Dark rather than uninterrupted light. Thus Short-day plants are more accurately described
as Long-night plants, because they only flower if their uninterrupted dark period exceeds a
critical length. Similarly, Long-day plants such as lettuce are more accurately described as
Short-night plants.

The first trip that you should consider doing at this time of the year is a drive out to Sutherland.
On the way there you could stop as you see necessary. The place to stop and to walk further
along the road verges is just past the turn-off to the Komsberg at the top of Verlate Kloof Pass
Walk for about 2 to 3 km on both sides of the road. You should see Romulea hallii in full flower
now. These plants must rate as one of the most beautiful Romulea species. The flowers are a
light blue/lilac colour with prominent yellow markings in the throat.
All along the road at this site you will find the yellow Romulea tortuosa flowering. This is
Romulea tortuosa ssp tortuosa – a yellow flower with black markings in the cup. The leaves
are extremely curly (tortuose). In cultivation these leaves often become more erect and upright
It is postulated that this happens because of more shade in cultivation. Could this be because
it is not as cold in our pots as it is at Sutherland? Are the leaves close to the ground as
protection against the severe weather conditions?
At the site you will also find Syringodea unifolia – pale violet to violet/blue flowers.
At this time of the year you will also see Lachenalia congesta as well as Lachenalia undulata
here. Looking closely you will also find Romulea atrandra, Hesperantha humilis and an Ixia
with sickle shaped leaves at this spot. Unfortunately these plants will only be in leaf at this time
of the year. From here you can return to Cape Town via the Komsberg. On the Komsberg road
you will see Romulea komsbergensis in leaf. Romulea tortuosa will be flowering all along the
Komsberg – sheets of yellow flowers, all hugging the ground. You will see Brunsvigia
josephinae in leaf with their very old bulbs about 5O% out of the ground. If you would ever
come across these large plants with their grey-green leaves at night you will see that the
leaves appear to be white at night when light shines on them. The waxy layer that covers the
leaves causes this reflection of the light. The purpose of the wax is to protect the leaves
against the harsh sunlight as well as to limit the loss of moisture. It works like a Factor 3O
sunblock. Along the Komsberg you can also see Polyxena longituba in the seasonal water
logged depressions. There are always Ixias and Moraeas ( M ciliata & M macronyx ) to be
seen, mostly still in leaf but the odd plant would have flowers on.


We received a report of a very successful daytrip that a few IBSA members undertook to an
area south of Malmesbury. A few km south of Malmesbury a railway track crosses under the
N7. Turn off onto the dirt road that runs along the railway track in a westerly direction. Later in
the year you will find Gladiolus meliusculus and Geissorhiza monanthos at this turn-off. All
along this road you will find Gethyllis ciliaris. There is a township called Chatsworth along this
road. Go beyond the houses and you will find more Gethyllis ciliaris as well as Gethyllis afra.
Here you will also see Gladiolus carinatus as well as Geissorhiza radians and Geissorhiza
euristygma. There are also Lachenalia pallida, L pustulata and L orchioides here. Ixia scillaris
was also reported to have been seen here. If you are able to get onto the Dasberg you will find
magnificent stands of Lachenalia aloides quadricolor on the granite rocks. Some grow in the
fissures, while others grow on the compost collected in depressions in the rock. Lachenalia
aloides “tricolor “ was also reported to have been seen here this year. Everywhere on the
granite boulders there were tall Gladiolus priorii. The Dasberg is on privately owned land, but
by all reports the farmer is very friendly. Make time to get his permission to be there.
Later in the year you can also find Gladiolus gracilis and G alatus in this area. Babiana
ambigua, B villosula, Moraea neglecta and Spiloxene capensis can also be seen here.
Lachenalia unifolia as well as Gladiolus trichonemifolius is also abundant here in September.
This is an area worth visiting at any time as you can see, but be warned – do not go alone.
Any group of a few people would make it safe, because the locals might want to come and talk
to you.
BULB CHAT                               AUGUST 2002                               No. 30


There are a few new Babiana species that have as yet not officially been named. Most of them
come from the area to the north and to the west of Vanrhynsdorp, to as far north as the
Springbok area. This includes the magnificent one that appears on page 50 in “ Namaqualand
A Succulent Desert “ by Cowling and Pierce with magnificent photographs by Colin Paterson-
Jones. It also includes a new one that is currently flowering in IBSA cultivation, and by the time
you read this it would have been back at the Compton Herbarium. It was collected by
Dr Peter Goldblatt and Dr John Manning, who asked us to grow it on for them for future


In 1919 J.E.P. Levyns spent 6 weeks prospecting in the Swartruggens, probably the wildest
and least known area of the Western Cape. He said the name Katbakkies meant Little Cat
Faces. We have not previously come across this explanation, though we have heard several
others. He tramped a distance of more than 150 miles. The farms Katbakkies, Groenfontein
and Zuurvlakte, three enormous areas of bleak mountaintop, formed by a 50 mile long
anticline of the hard quartzites of the Witteberg series of rocks when they had been folded
upwards forming the Cedarberg to the north and the bastion of the Matroosberg to the south.
Is there a chance of another discovery like that of Clivia mirabilis ?


Many of us have experimented for years with various feeding-regimes. One of our successful
growers has noted that despite feeding his Lachenalias with Potasium Sulphate the leaves do
not look too happy. The leaves seem to be brittle and break easily. He had previously fed his
Lachenalias with 3:1:6 with great success. His plants were always extremely vigorous and
they just looked good. This year he is not happy with the condition of the Lachenalias.
Feeding the Iridaceae with Potasium Sulphate at 5 ml to 5 liters of water seems to do the trick.
The leaves are greener than usual and the plants are more robust. Those brown leaf tips are a
thing of the past. It might be a good idea to alternate the feeding of Iridaceae between 3:1:6
and Potasium Sulphate. The Potasium Sulphate will also lead to bigger corms at the end of
the growing season.


In the gardens of the world there are thousands of Gladiolus cultivars and hybrids. They all
started in the Cape though quite early on species from the Eastern Cape and then from Natal
and then subsequently from the Transvaal and eventually from Rhodesia ( if you will excuse
the names then in use ) took over. The first successful hybridist was Dean William Herbert
who was breeding new forms between 1810 and 1847. None of his survived. The earliest
grower whose hybrids still are grown was Colville, a nurseryman in Chelsea who produced
Gladiolus colvillei in 1823. He described it as G. cardinalis x G. blandus (now G. carneus )
but it seems more likely that it was G. cardinalis x G. tristis, for it was strongly scented. In
1830 a G. ramosus was bred in Holland from G. cardinalis x G. floribundus – again more likely
G. cardinalis x G. oppositiflorus. In 1837 Bedinghaus, gardener to the Duc d‟Aremberg at
Enghein in France, produced Gladiolus gandavensis which was very probably a cross
between the red and yellow forms of Gladiolus psittacinus ( dalenii to you ), though possibly
G. dalenii x G.oppositiflorus. From then on, although more indigenous species were pressed
into use, many of the new hybrids were based on those first classical ones as one or both of
the parents.

Many IBSA members grow Bulbinellas. The impression I get at the monthly meetings is that
very few of us know anything about Bulbinellas. We tend to guess when it comes to
identification, because very few of us have taken the time to study this interesting group of
plants. Bulbinella is a small genus belonging to the family Asphodelaceae. Bulbinellas are
found in the winter-rainfall region of the Western Cape in South Africa and also in New
Zealand. After Pauline Perry‟s work “ Bulbinella in South Africa”, published in 1999, we now
acknowledge 17 species of Bulbinella in South Africa and 6 species in New Zealand.
The genus Bulbinella was established by Kunth when he discarded the genus Anthericum L.
and divided the taxa then known among the three genera Phalangium, Trachyandra and
Bulbinella. The first Bulbinellas to be described were what we know today as B cauda-felis and
B. triquetra.
Bulbinellas had long been regarded as belonging to the large family Liliaceae. Recent work
has brought along a new classification with Liliaceae split into smaller families. Bulbinellas now
belong to the family Asphodelaceae and to the subfamily Asphodeloideae. This subfamily
includes the genera Bulbinella, Bulbine, Kniphofia and Trachyandra. The other subfamily
Alooideae includes Aloes, Gasterias, Haworthia and Astroloba. The difference between these
two subfamilies is the fact that in subfamily Asphodeloideae the tepals of the flowers are free
or connate at the base and the tepals are spreading or campanulate. In subfamily Alooideae
the tepals are fused below into a tube and are erect or shortly spreading above. Not a major
difference to write home about !! This was one of the reasons for the debate about including
Aloes into the group of plants that IBSA grows, talks and writes about.
All Bulbinella species are deciduous geophytes ranging in height above ground from about
O,2 to 1,2 m. The underground stem is a compact corm-like structure with an apical shoot
surrounded by membranous or fibrous sheaths extended to form a neck. Numerous swollen
roots arise basally and laterally from the stem. A new stem disc and swollen roots are formed
annually towards the end of the growing season. Plants are dormant through the dry summer.
Leaves are produced annually and die down at the end of the growing season. The leaves are
erect and linear and arise directly from the upper side of the reduced stem. Some Bulbinellas
have narrow leaves while others have broad leaves. The leaves are normally without hair
( glabrous ), but very occasionally the leaves may be sparsely covered with fine, longish hairs.
The inflorescence of Bulbinellas is an unbranched, dense raceme. The flowers are stellate
with the 6 tepals joined at the extreme base. Flower colour is most commonly yellow, but white
as well as cream-coloured flowers and rarely orange flowers are also found.
When identifying Bulbinellas the first thing to do is to look at the size of the leaves. The first
group has leaves of different sizes, with the largest leaves towards the outside and the
smallest towards the inside. The plants are usually taller than O,5 m and the flowers could be
yellow, orange, cream-coloured or white. This group includes the following species : B. elata,
B. nutans, B. latifolia, B. punctulata, B. potbergensis, B. barkerae, B. eburniflora, B. cauda-
felis and B. graminifolia. In the second group the leaves are all equal to nearly equal and the
plants are mostly shorter than O,5 m. The flowers in this group are either white or yellow. The
species in group 2 are B. gracilis, B. nana, B. chartacea, B. divaginata, B. trinervis, B. ciliolata,
B. triquetra and B. elegans.
At the last IBSA monthly meeting there were 3 of the 4 subspecies belonging to Bulbinella
latifolia on display. On show were the yellow B. latifolia ssp latifolia, the orange B. latifolia ssp
doleritica as well as the rare B. latifolia ssp toximontana from the Gifberg with cream-coloured
flowers. The absent one was B. latifolia ssp denticulata from the Worcester and Ceres areas.


If Lachenalia leaves are cut or broken off and left to lie on moist shaded grit, they form a corky
covering at the point of severance and bulbils form there and even some distance up the leaf.
The grit moist and out of direct sunlight.

Four IBSA members were invited to visit a farm about 15 km to the east of Garies over the first
weekend of August. We stayed at the Garies Hotel and spent nearly a complete day on this
wonderful farm. On our arrival the first plant that we saw was not in flower, but in leaf. We saw
hundreds or even thousands of Brunsvigia plants. This was the largest colony of Brunsvigia
bosmaniae that any of us had ever seen. More plants than what we had ever seen at Glen
Lyon at Nieuwoudtville. Can you imagine what it must look like towards the end of March when
they flower in their hundreds. When we started walking we were soon confronted by fields of a
Babiana with truncated leaves and blue flowers. At first we thought that it was Babiana
truncata, but the shape of the tube troubled us. It was obviously a tube with a kink to it. That
evening we could positively identify the plants as Babiana pubescens. There is a close
superficial resemblance between Babiana truncata, B. pubescens and B. flabellifolia. All three
these species have truncated leaves. The leaves of B. pubescens could be up to 2,5 cm wide,
while the leaves of B. truncata are up to 1,4 cm wide. The tube of the flower of B. pubescens
is curved with a distinct bend near the throat. The main colour of the flowers of all three these
species is light blue to purple. B. pubescens has some red on the lower tepals which the other
two don‟t have. Just to confuse us even more there is now a fourth species with truncated
leaves – Babiana cuneata. From the little information we have about this species we know that
the blunt ending leaves are not as wide as those of B. pubescens. B. cuneata has flowers not
extremely dissimilar to those of B. flabellifolia. We spent quite some time flat on our stomach
trying to photograph these Babianas. The idea was to get the tube in focus from the side, and
also to make sure that the truncated leaves, and the red in the flowers, could be seen.
The next interesting pairing we saw was Lapeirousia silenoides and a few Lapeirousia
dolomitica ssp lewisiana. Both these species have magenta flowers. The L. silenoides is
spectacular in it‟s own right, but we were extremely pleased to see the L. dolomitica ssp
lewisiana. According to the revision of Lapeirousia by Peter Goldblatt it is very seldom seen.
The type collection of this Lapeirousia was made by Nordenstam near Komkans, about 100
km to the southwest of where we were.
We also saw some magnificent specimens of Lachenalia carnosa. Those that were growing in
the shade were huge, with big glossy leaves. Not as abundant as the L. carnosa was another
species of Lachenalia, L. mutabilis. This was the variety from the Garies/Springbok areas, with
duller flowers than the L. mutabilis found at Clanwilliam. We also saw 2 species of Gethyllis,
Gethyllis britteniana growing in the open surrounded by L. carnosa as well as Lap. silenoides.
Gethyllis verticillata was found growing near the granite boulders, in shade for a large part of
the day. We saw leaves of Haemanthus crispus everywhere.
Another interesting plant that we saw was Aloe krapholiana. This is a small Aloe with relatively
large flowers and banded leaves. We saw a few plants, some with huge seedpods. On the
rocksheets were various succulents including some beautiful yellow Cheiridopsis cigarettifera.
We ended our stay by slowly driving ( 4 x 4 ) along a tract to the highest point in the area ,
from where we could see for many kilometers. To the west we could see the sea, definitely
more than 70 km away.


Every purple to violet coloured Lapeirousia that we see is not Lapeirousia jacquinii. We have
all seen Lap. jacquinii at places like Nieuwoudtville and Vanrhynsdorp, but near Clanwilliam
and in the Bidouw Valley we also find Lap. violacea. The flowers are very similar but Lap.
violacea lacks the white markings on the margins of the lower segments of the tepals. Lap.
violacea can also be recognised by the absence of crisping or serrations of the stem and
bracts, and by the presence of long spiny cusps on the base of the corm. Just to confuse us
the two species grow together in the Bidouw Valley as well as about 5 km south of Vanrhyns-
dorp on the road connecting the N7 with the road to the Gifberg.

Often at monthly meetings the term Angiosperms is thrown about. The Angiosperms, or
flowering plants, constitute the dominant vascular plant of modern floras of the earth. The term
Angiosperm ( which literally means „a vessel seed‟ ) was devised to designate one of the most
definitive characteristics of flowering plants, namely the enclosure of the ovules or potential
seeds within a hollow ovary. In this respect Angiosperms are considered to be advanced, as
compared with the naked seeded Gymnosperms ( the Cycads, Pines, Podocarpus and our
Widdringtonias ). Angiosperms far exceed in number and structure all other major groups of
living plants. More than 200,000 species have been named and classified. The basic food
supply of the world is derived from the seeds and fruits of Angiosperms. Fibers, wood, drugs
and other products of great economic value also come from flowering plants.
The origin of the Angiosperms is a subject for huge and heated debate. Known fossil records
have not really been able to lead us to the origin of these plants. Fossilized wood only
provides fragmentary evidence that Angiosperms had reached a high stage of morphological
specialization by the Middle Cretaceous Period. The evidence that is available supports the
theory that Angiosperms developed over an extremely long period of time. The reason for the
lack of fossil records could also possibly be found in the theory that Angiosperms developed in
upland areas, i.e., in regions most unlikely for the preservation of fruits, flowers, leaves, wood
and pollen. If this is true we may search in vain for tangible fossil records of truly ancient and
primitive Angiosperms.


In the July National Geographic Magazine there is an interesting article on plant evolution as
currently being postulated by paleobotanists based on DNA analysis rather than morphological
features. Written in a „popular‟ journalistic style it covers activities about which we seldom
hear. Angiosperms, which we think of and know as flowering plants, are pushed back to 13O
million years on fossil record and which are defined not by flowers but by enclosing seed in
their carpels. The four earliest flowering families are apparently Amborellaceae ( a mono-
specific species on New Caledonia ),Nymphaeaceae, Illiciaceae and the Magnoliids followed
by Monocots and Eudicots which include almost all the genera we call Dicots. The article also
contains an excellent photograph of Kokerboom near Nieuwoudtville.


Rumour has it that one of the several newly discovered species of Babiana to be published in
the work now in progress will rejoice in the name rubella. If we believed in sympathetic
medicine we would have to warn any enceinte member not to grow this species ; a pity
because it is very pretty and fragrant. The name comes from the Latin rubellus meaning


Most 15 cm pots have an actual depth of 12 cm. Fill the bottom 2½ cm with stone chips and
cover this with 6½ cm of course mixture. Press down level. Cover with 2 cm of fine mixture
and press down level again. Place pot in a basin of water till the soil is moist. Set aside to
drain surplus water. Now sprinkle on the seed. Place several pots in a box with a depth of
about 18 cm with a layer of gravel in the bottom so that the pot drainage holes are not blocked
by the floor of the box. Cover the box with a glass pane. You can use film but you have better
control with glass. Tip the condensed drops on the glass each night and morning into the box,
but NOT into the pots. No further watering needed. Ideally on even temperature of about 13°C
so keep out of hot sun and shelter from cold nights. Course mix is large grain sand and sifted
humus, 4 or even 5:1. Fine mix is fine sand and finely crumbled humus, 4 or even 3:1.
BULB CHAT                            SEPTEMBER 2002                                No. 31


The flowers of Ferrarias have fascinated many of us. These flowers have an unusual shape,
they are relatively small and some of the flowers have a foul smell. There are also Ferrarias
that are sweetly scented such as F. brevifolia, F. kamiesbergensis and F. schaeferi. The
genus was named in honour of Johannes Burman in honour of Giovanni Battista Ferrari who
first described and figured a ferraria in 1633, under the descriptive title Flos indicus e violaceo
fuscus radice tuberosa. He believed that plant came from Batavia. Ferrarias are closely
related to the genera Homeria, Hexaglottis and Galaxia. Today, these genera have all
disappeared. They have been sunk into Moraea.
Ferrarias were brought to Europe before the middle of the 17th century and cultivated there as
items of interest, on account of their unusual flowers. The name Ferraria was first used in
1759 by Miller and also by Wannman. Miller saw Burman‟s description of F. crispa and
F. fimbriata shortly before it was published. In his work he then must have mentioned where
he got the names, because it has never been attributed to him. Ferraria fimbriata has been
excluded from what we knows as Ferrarias today, because it had an incorrectly drawn
androecium (male parts) as well as an inadequate description of the flower.
In a work dated May 30 1759, often ascribed to Wannman, but written by Linnaeus himself,
mention is made of the genus in the following words: Nec minus singulares sunt Ferraria
petalis undulatis. Miller‟s figure bears the date January 26, 1759. Therefore Miller‟s description
of the genus, which he ascribed to Burman, antedates that of Wannman.
Ferrarias are closely related to the genera Homeria, Hexaglottis and Galaxia. Today, these
genera have also disappeared. They have been sunk into Moraea.


According to history the first Lachenalia to be painted in colour was Lachenalia hirta. It was
painted by Simon van der Stel or somebody with him on his explorations to Namaqualand in
1685 and 1686. That plant was not called L. hirta, but “Hyacinthus Africanus Orchioides
serpentarius, folia singularis, undato, piliscilliaribus fimbriato, floribus ex aureo punicatibus”.
By 1739 paintings of three more Lachenalias were published. They were Lachenalia
orchioides var. orchioides, Lachenalia orchioides var. glaucina and Lachenalia contaminata.
By 1784 Baron Nicolaus Joseph Jacquin and his son Joseph Franz Jacquin were studying
collections of South African plants in Vienna. J.F. Jacquin described the new genus naming it
Lachenalia after Werner de Lachenal, an eminent professor in Basel, Switzerland. He sent the
manuscript to the editor of the Journal ”Acta Helvetica” in Basel, expecting it to be published in
1780. This never happened. The publication of the journal had lapsed and his paper was
ultimately only published in the revived journal titled: Nova Acta Helvetica in 1787. To make
the story more complicated, J.A. Murray, evidently having seen the manuscript and presuming
that it had been published, included a short description of the genus in “Linnaeus Systema
Vegetabilium” in 1784. Although Murray had not intended to publish the new genus, he must
be credited with having done so, and the correct citation for it is Lachenalia Jacq.f. ex Murray.


At a recent monthly meeting Dr. J Manning gave us a talk on the differences between the
genera Albuca and Ornithogalum. Many of us had been on fieldtrips in the past where we
found it difficult to distinguish between these genera. The flowers of both genera could be
white, yellow, orange or green. In Albuca the inner tepals are erect and the filaments of the
stamens are pinched below. In Ornithogalum the tepals are spreading and the filaments could
be swollen, but they are never pinched in.

As a follow-up to the earlier visit by IBSA members to the Tankwa Karoo, two of us went back
to a few spots visited on the original trip. The main aim was to try and collect seed of Tritonia
florentiae, the beautiful little yellow Tritonia that was seen in profusion by everybody on the
first trip. On finding the locality along the P225O, we were very excited to see that our timing
was perfect. The Tritonias had made ample seed and the capsules were just right for us to
collect. Many of the capsules had started splitting at the seems. We collected enough seed to
distribute to all who might want at next year‟s AGM. The seed capsules sit at ground level and
they are often covered by loose windblown sand. Try collecting about 50 seedpods at or below
ground level. You have to be on your haunches or you have to bend more than 9O° at the
waist. If the area that you are covering is about 4OO m X 4OO m, you will understand why my
hips and thigh muscles were aching for 3 days after the trip.
At the same locality Lachenalia zebrina was in full bloom. They were spectacular. There were
many single plants, but the little groupings of 2 or 3 plants were even more spectacular. It is
interesting to note that often when there are 2 plants together the single striped leaf of each
plant would be 180° to the leaf of the other plant. The exserted stamens of these little groups
of 2 plants often touched each other. Is this a way to ensure cross-pollination? Another
observation that we had also discussed at the IBSA monthly meeting at the end of August was
the fact that many Lachenalias from the arid areas had banded leaves. Here Lachenalia
zebrina was growing in close proximity to Aloe variegata. The leaves of this aloe also have a
banded pattern. Is there a reason for the banded leaves? Would they possibly help to attract
pollinators or does a banded leaf play a protective roll against predators.
At the same site Ferraria divaricata ssp. australis was also found. The plants were growing in
loose sand in the seasonal washes. Lapeirousia plicata was also seen. Most of them were
over and starting to form seed. Another extremely rare plant that we saw there was
Haemanthus tristis. According to the Haemanthus book this plant has an extremely restricted
distribution. It is limited to seasonal washes in the arid Tankwa Karoo. Well, this is exactly
where we found it, except that the previous records shows that it should come from about
60km further south.
On the way back we stopped at a site against a hillside to the eastern side of the road. There
we saw a few specimens of Aloe variegata, some in flower and others with seed on. At this
site we saw some of the most spectacular Lachenalia zebrinas. The sheer numbers were
overwhelming. The plants were showing off, some standing alone against the dark rocks in the
background. Others formed little clumps of 2, 3 or even 4 plants. When bending down to
photograph these plants, you were hit between the eyes (or on the nose) by their heavenly
sweet scent. Beauty that blows the mind. This was true, untouched Tankwa Karoo.
We also stopped near Karoopoort. Here we saw blue/mauve Lapeirousia pyramidalis, Freesia
occidentalis and Cyanella lutea. Here we also found the very interesting Ornithoglossum
undulatum in seed. They normally flower during May and June. There were also many
spectacular Crassulas in flower, as well as a Sarcocaulon, possibly Sarcocaulon crassicaule.
We normally think of the Tankwa Karoo as an arid landscape. Well, this was lush (in Karoo
terms). An unforgettable day, a day to enrich your spirit with the natural splendour of the
Tankwa Karoo.


Our Chairman tells us that his first and most successful application of smoke water was based
on burning Rosemary. Thereafter he used indigenous vegetation, but never with as great
success. He recently read that during the Middle Ages the monks used to pack Rosemary
needles around seedlings to improve germination. He feels that when he resumes smoke
water treatment he is only going to use Rosemary. Infusing 1 teaspoon of dried flowering tops
or leaves in ½ cup of water can make a liquid preparation of Rosemary.
Caution: Excessive amounts of Rosemary taken internally can cause fatal poisoning.

In Bulbchat no 16 an excursion along this road was described. One of our members drove
along this road during the last week of August and saw many interesting plants. Shortly after
turning off from the main road to Hermanus onto the road signposted as Karwyderskraal they
found an area where all the vegetation was being cleared. There they saw Geissorhiza ovata
in profusion. These plants have small white flowers with pink on the back of the tepals. At the
same site many Gladiolus hirsutus were seen in flower. The flower colour ranged from a very
light pink to an extremely dark pink. There were also many G. hirsutus plants that were
starting to make seedpods. Romulea triflora was also in full bloom. These yellow flowering
Romuleas have bell-shaped corms, making it a close relative of Romulea hirsuta. Just to
confuse the visitor there were a few apricot-pink specimens of Romulea hirsuta seen there as
well. Lachenalia orchioides var. orchioides were seen growing everywhere where it was
sandy. A few dark red Watsonia spectabilis plants were scattered amongst the Lachenalias.
Towards the southern extreme of this open space a few yellow Gladiolus tenellus plants were
found. This is the one they now call Gladiolus trichonemifolius.
Further along the road they found fields of Babiana purpurea. As the name might indicate
these plants have pink, purple or mauve flowers, with distinctive dark anthers.
At another stop they saw Gladiolus liliaceus. There were only a few plants to be seen at that
time. By the time you read this the Gladiolus liliaceus should be in full flower. Everywhere
along this route many different species of Oxalis were seen. The road then winds through a lot
of Fynbos, including some spectacular dark pink Phaenocoma prolifera. Eventually you get to
Caledon via Shaw‟s Pass. In September Moraea barnardii flowers on Shaw‟s Pass. This is
indeed a daytrip worth doing.


IBSA members must have experienced the phenomenon that in certain years certain genera
seem to flower extremely prolific. The year 2002 seems to be the year of the Moraea. During
the first week of September the following Moraeas were flowering in my pots: Moraea aristata,
including the new corms that were bought at the Kirstenbosch Fair, Moraea villosa in different
shades of blue (no orange ones, unfortunately), Moraea loubseri, Moraea calcicola from near
Saldanha, Moraea tulbaghensis, Moraea neopavonia, Moraea papilionacea, Moraea
atropunctata (dark variety), Moraea vegeta, Moraea tripetala, Moraea fugax in yellow and blue
and lastly Moraea tortilis. To make the list even longer we could add the following plants that
are now classified as Moraeas even though most of us still know them as Homerias and as
Gynandriris. These included Moraea pritzeliana, Moraea collina, Moraea comptonii, Moraea
elegans, Moraea flaccida and Moraea ochroleuca.


At the August monthly meeting Johan Loubser from Stellenbosch stole the show with an
absolutely spectacular pot of Moraea neopavonia. Moraea neopavonia was described in 1782
by the young Linnaeus as Iris pavonia, possibly based on collections made by C.P. Thunberg.
In 1947 R.C. Foster changed the name to Moraea neopavonia, meaning the new peacock.
This had become necessary because the species name pavonia had already been used for
another plant ( now called Tigridia pavonia )
Moraea neopavonia is closely related to the other orange peacock moraea, namely Moraea
tulbaghensis. Moraea neopavonia has larger outer tepals than M. tulbaghensis. In M.
neopavonia a band of green,as in M. tulbaghensis, does not surround the blue nectar guides.
The anthers of Moraea neopavonia are very long and exceed the style.
Most IBSA members have never seen Moraea neopavonia in its natural habitat, because it is
extremely rare today. Most of the original habitat is now under wheat fields.

During the first week of September a few IBSA members went on a 3-day excursion to the
Gifberg. According to Johan Fourie they had a wonderful time. Although the weather was not
very kind they saw a great variety of plants.
On the way there they saw Babiana scabrifolia along the N7 between Citrusdal and
Clanwilliam. Some of these Babianas were still in flower, but the majority was over and
starting to make seed. Babiana scabrifolia is a low growing Babiana with light blue flowers.
The leaves of these Babianas are coiled in the upper half. Along the same road many large
Lachenalia mutabilis were seen. Near Klawer they saw a white and pink Moraea that they
could not identify. It would definitely be worth the effort and time to go there next year to see
what this plant is.
On the Gifberg the group stayed at the Gifberg Rusoord, belonging to the Huisamens. The
members went on two trails on the farm. Here they saw a huge variety of spectacular plants;
including some very low growing Gladiolus alatus, Lachenalia violacea, Lachenalia elegans
and also Lachenalia unifolia. Gladiolus venustus with pink and other with dark blue flowers
were in profusion. These plants were even growing right up against the little cottages that the
members stayed in. On one of the walks a single Gladiolus caryophallaceus was seen. It had
a very pale flower. They also saw three different Babiana species. These included Babiana
mucronata with blue and yellow flowers, B. sinuata and another dark blue Babiana with a long
tube. They also two species of Bulbinella. The one was a small yellow species and the other a
bigger cream/white species. Wachendorfias, Trachyandras and even Chlorophytums were
also seen. According to Johan Fourie the most striking plant that they saw on the Gifberg was
Aristea inaequualis. These tall, clump-forming plants have deep blue flowers and grey/green
leaves. While on the two walks on the farm the members also saw two different species of
Gethyllis as well as Satyrium erectum and also Holothrix aspera. These last two plants are
ground orchids.
On the Gifberg Sparaxis variegata was also seen. This plant used to be known as Synnotia
variegata. The members on this excursion also saw large numbers of the dark yellow Sparaxis
grandiflora ssp acutiloba at Clanwilliam on their way to the Gifberg. Because the sky was
overcast for most of the excursion, very few flowering specimens of Romuleas were seen. Ixia
scillaris was quite abundant on the Gifberg. There were the normal pink ones as well as some
very pale specimens. Many small Geissorhizas were seen, especially near water. The
relatively tall Geissorhiza confusa was starting to come into flower. These plants have angular
leaves, quite similar to Gladiolus tristis.
As always the meals provided by the Huisamens were of a very high quality and extremely
tasty. Everybody had a great time on the Gifberg.
On the last day the members returned to Cape Town via Vanrhynsdorp and Clanwilliam. At
Vanrhynsdorp they visited the nursery of Mr Buys Wiese. Some members bought a few
bulbous plants there, including the beautiful little Lachenalia patula. There were also a few
other Lachenalia species on sale as well as Gethyllis afra. Between Clanwilliam and Citrusdal
they visited a farm where they saw large numbers of Lachenalia hirta and Lachenalia
trichophylla. It was suggested that IBSA go back to this farm in a few weeks to collect seed of
these two Lachenalia species. At this farm they also saw two different species of Wurmbea.


Dr M. Boussard, from France, wrote the following to Johan W. Loubscher: “I also remember
the reluctance of Romulea hantamensis to germinate. They germinated only in the third
season and I say it with some dismay. I left the pot in the open last winter where it froze and
got snowed on. Perhaps the freeze triggered the germination. Hantamsberg does get frost and
sometimes snow in winter. I suggest that the seed be given a good soaking for a couple of
days, then be put in the fridge for three to four weeks, then plant and hope for the best.”
BULB CHAT                             OCTOBER 2002                                No. 32


In Bulb Chat No 31 it was mentioned that the year 2002 could be the year of the Moraea. To
continue on this theme we have a few more stories.
         Johan Loubser tells us that 2 flowering specimens of Moraea loubseri were recently
          found by Dr Dee Snijman at the type locality of this plant near Saldanha. We are all
          very excited about this find because we feared that the species was extinct in
         In a discussion with Johan Loubser he also told us about the circumstances around
          the finding of Moraea calcicola. This beautiful blue Moraea was first shown to Johan
          Loubser by another IBSA member, Waldo von Essen. Johan Loubser then showed
          it to Peter Goldblatt in 1976. There are no records of it ever having been collected
          prior to 1976.
         On a recent trip to the Roggeveld and the Komsberg Moraeas were still in profusion.
          Moraea ciliata (deep, dark blue), Moraea pritzeliana and Moraea marlothii were
          seen everywhere we walked. Moraea tripetala were seen in great numbers along
          the Rooiwal Road. They varied in size depending on the surrounding vegetation. If
          the vegetation was tall and bushy the Moraeas were also tall – up to about 50 cm. In
          the open they were only about 20 cm tall. Along the Komsberg we saw Moraea
          macronyx, unfortunately not in flower but the dry remnants of the plants.
         The Moraea that was seen by members on the Gifberg excursion has still not been
          identified. At first it was thought to possibly be Moraea barkerae, but after seeing the
          slides of the plant we are not sure that it is Moraea barkerae. We will need pressed
          material next year to have this plant positively identified. The possibility exists that
          this is a new species, which would really be a feather in the cap of IBSA and its
         The controversy about Moraea aristata refuses to go away. You will remember that
          Johan Loubser‟s contention was that specimens with extraneous multiple spots are
          hybrids. We also know that plants were taken from Observatory to Kirstenbosch for
          cultivation to increase the stock and then returned to Observatory. We cannot say
          that hybridisation occurred there or at some other place and time. Johan planted 16
          corms of his own original stock individually. Two corms rotted, 5 did not flower and
          the remaining 9 produced spotless flowers ( see photo ). He sowed Kirstenbosch
          seed. Only one flowered. That one was corrupt ( see photo ). He destroyed the
          whole batch.

In the main the areas covered were the Tankwa, the Roggeveld and the Komsberg. An
uncountable number of species were seen : in flower or in seed or in leaf. A list of them
would fill this page so, instead, I list certain species selected for a variety of reasons.
Our biggest problem was identification. The ridiculous botanical convention which
excludes the Roggeveld and Namaqualand from the Cape Floral Kingdom meant that we
could not use Cape Plants by Goldblatt and Manning. We had to use about 8 other
publications, some from the 1950‟s, incomplete, out of date and cursed in many cases
with convoluted keys. Thus, in the Tankwa , there is a Lachenalia : 15 mm globular bulb
with bumpy brown tunics; height 160mm; no leaves when flowering but very dark red leaf
bases (2) at neck; tiny flowers (width 3mm, length 6mm) spicate, closely packed up the
stem, sub erect tending to horizontal at the top of the stem; strongly exerted style and
stamens ( shorter than style ); flower almost closed at mouth, outer tepals green, inner
tepals much longer dark red, gibbosity dark red, bracts not apparent. So what is it ?
Please tell us !
Then there were Ixias, Hesperanthas, Geissorhizas and others about which we are very
doubtful, some extremely beautiful. We applied names with little confidence as being
nearest to known species. We saw only 3 species of Gladiolus: G splendens, one we
thought ought to be G venustus – yellow with faint brown flush at the ends of all tepals, 5
leaves with heavily raised midrib and well defined margins. The third species we saw was
Gladiolus uysiae, which grew everywhere. In one place G uysiae was growing in
hundreds, very strongly marked, in a small area which had been the flood plain of a river
which flooded over this year. Never had we imagined so many in so small an area.
The Komsberg was carpeted with Romulea komsbergensis and Romulea diversiformis.
Of the big species we actually saw Romulea unifolia in flower. Many specimens of
Romulea unifolia were not the usual red or orange, but a deep pink, not unlike Romulea
subfistulosa. We found no seed of Romulea hallii, even in pinpointed localities. Romulea
subfistulosa was flowering at the Daubenya reserve.
The yellow form of Daubenya aurea had finished flowering. It is reasonably prolific in the
bottom left and top right of the reserve, but none in the middle. They were plentiful just
beyond the top fence. Perhaps we should remember that IBSA used to have the word
“growers” in its title and that its aim is cultivation. Perhaps we should move some
specimens into the middle of the reserve from beyond the top fence.
Ferraria, Ornithoglossum and Lachenalia zebrina are making lots of seed which will not
be ready for harvesting for another 3 weeks. There was plenty of Lapeirousia plicata with
ripe seed. A small, highly scented, white flowered, Wurmbea was flowering strongly on
the Komsberg, presumably Wurmbea variabilis.
There were items of especial interest, to me at least, in a wonderful wealth of bulbous
and dicot beauty and profusion. A writer with more interest in the smaller Irids could no
doubt report strongly on the many very beautiful Ixias including a superbly coloured Ixia
brevituba, not, of course, in Cape Plants.
If I sound bitter about this artificial exiling of indubitably Cape flowers it is because I feel
bitter. We must wait for the Bulb Encyclopedia to correct the balance.


At the September monthly meeting Johan Loubser, our Moraea expert, showed a pot of
Moraea saxicola. The species name saxicola means rock loving, describing the habitat of
the species, stony ground or crevices in rock outcrops. These plants are found from
Nuwerus in the south to the northern Richtersveld. The flowers are pale blue or white to
cream. There are orange nectar guides on the outer tepals.The plants have a solitary
leaf. Flowering time is September and October and flowering usually starts at about 3 o‟
clock in the afternoon and the flowers fade towards sunset.

After the talk by Dr John Manning earlier this year about Albuca and Ornithogalum
members seem to be taking more notice of Albucas. Reports have come in that Albuca
longipes was seen to flower on the “ Blommepad “ at Nieuwoudtville. This Albuca has
white flowers with green keels and the flowers are erect. Albuca setosa was recently
seen in the Tankwa Karoo. Albuca maxima is flowering all along the road south of
Verlatekloof Pass, south of Sutherland. This is a tall plant with pendulous white and
green flowers. At Worcester another erect flowering Albuca is in full bloom at present.
This is Albuca aurea, obviously with yellow flowers with green keels. To confuse us
Albuca aurea could also have white flowers with green keels.


Towards the end of September IBSA staged a Mini Show along with the Clivia Club at
Bellville. Although we had many apprehensions about showing flowering plants so late in
the season it turned out to be a huge success.
We produced 140 pots and displayed it with the low growing specimens in the front and
the tall specimens at the back. It was a spectacular display. Many visitors to the display
were dumbstruck by what they saw. Some let rip with some choice expletives. Most
people had never seen such a variety of bulbous and cormous plants together. Anything
from Aristeas to Wurmbeas was on display.In total there were 88 different species of
plants on show. The most common Genus on display was Lachenalia with 26 different
species to be seen. Lachenalia zebrina and Lachenalia latermerae were on show for the
first time at an IBSA show. Other plants on show for the first time included Geissorhiza
schinzii, Gladiolus fourcadei, Gladiolus splendens, Ixia aurea and Scilla natalensis. The
very rare Kniphofia pauciflora was also on display. This yellow flowered Kniphofia is
known only from a restricted area near Durban. This area is threatened as a result of
urban development.
Another extremely beautiful plant that was shown was Ixia viridiflora. People are always
amazed at the iridescent green flowers. Gladiolus alatus always attracts huge amounts of
attention and to crown it all there were even a few white specimens. The majority of
Lachenalias were prize winning specimens and they attracted a lot of attention. The
detail of the small flowers was appreciated by all the visitors. We used our spotlights to
great effect to illuminate and warm up the small Geissorhizas. The amount of comments
we received from the public about the splendour of G. radians, G monanthos and
Geissorhiza euristigma were incalculable.
We gained quite a few new members at the show and made many contacts that might be
beneficial to IBSA in the future. The show was indeed a huge success and we can only
hope that the Clivia Club would invite us again in the future for such a combined show.


This is a relatively common Babiana from the Western Cape. It can still be found
flowering in August and September from the Piketberg District in the north to as far south
as Stellenbosch and as far east as Wellington. The flowers all face to one side and the
flowers are usually dark blue or violet with dark spots near the base of the lower
lobes.These plants were known as Babiana pulchra for many years but the name was
changed to Babiana angustifolia, a name given to specimens as far back as 1827 by
Sweet. Angustifolia means narrow leaves. One of our members from Midrand has
reported a pure white specimen in her pot this year. It had not appeared in previous

There is a tall and spindly pink and white Asiatic thistle of the Genus Centourea which
has over-run parts of Western USA killing off a lot of indigenous flora but not grasses and
grass-like plants such as wheat. It exudes, through its roots, a poison called Catechin
(C15H14O6), a yellow soluble substance. It instantly makes and releases the poison at
the slightest threat, even just tapping the leaves. The roots reject the poison, so
preventing it from killing itself, although it dies if the Catechin is injected into the roots.
There are apparently two forms of the poison, the killer form is known as Negative
Catechin, the positive form kills disease spreading soil bacteria and is believed to retard
ageing and helps to attack cancers. Efforts are being made to culture it for marketing.
Some years ago, in the IBSA Bulletin, we suggested that the white deposit found round
some Spiloxene inhibits competing plant growth around dormant Spiloxene bulbs. But
who reads and takes notice of the wilder speculations in the Bulletin?


After hearing how fantastic the Roggeveld and the Komsberg were towards the end of
September from the 3 IBSA members who went on a trip there a few of us decided to go
to Middelpos during the first week of October. We went to Middelpos via the Tankwa
Karoo. Nobody drives through the Tankwa Karoo without stopping, and we made quite a
few. The Tankwa was ablaze with colour. Most prolific was a small yellow
Mesembryanthemum, which was also highly fragrant. Very few bulbous plants were seen
in flower but we managed to collect seed of Ixia latifolia, Gladiolus venustus, Lapeirousia
plicata and L. pyramidalis as well as Lachenalia zebrina. We were also able to collect the
last remnants of seed of Moraea speciosa and Tritonia florentiae.
On the first day at Middelpos we visited the farm Uitkyk on the Quaggasfontein Road.
What a gem! It is a natural amphitheatre surrounded by Karoo hills. The farm is very
close to the escarpment and receives a relatively high rainfall. At Uitkyk there was a
spectacle of grand abundance. We saw a huge field of pink Ixia brevituba mixed with a
darker pink Oxalis – gaudy deluxe!! This area had been burnt in the last year and there
were many more bulbous and cormous plants growing there. We saw a Wurmbea as well
as an unidentified Lachenalia growing there as well. The Lachenalia had been shown to
the Pros at Kirstenbosch in the past but they have not come up with a name as yet. Ixia
marginifolia was growing on the edge of the burnt area. Also growing here was
Geissorhiza heterostyla. When seen from a distance (more than 2 m) these plants look
similar. The flowers are a light blue/mauve colour and they are about the same size and
same height from the ground. They fooled us and must surely fool the pollinators too.
There were large wet areas on this farm and in these wet areas we saw fields of
Bulbinella nutans. There yellow flowers were swaying in the wind. In these wet areas we
also saw 2 different Romuleas that were new to us. We collected a few specimens and
hope to have them identified. Blue Moraea ciliata was also very common on this farm.
We had lunch under a huge willow tree next to a tributary of the Bo-Vis River. It was
extremely peaceful except for the female weaver bird that continually broke down the
nest that the male had built for her. After lunch we were extremely fortunate to see a few
specimens of Gladiolus marlothii, just coming into flower. These plants have hairy leaves
and bright blue flowers, marked inside the tepals with red speckles and creamy blotches.
The trip back to the hotel took us past the red Daubenyas and their companions, the red
Romulea subfistulosa. There were enough of them in full bloom to enable us to take
some photographs. We also visited the yellow Daubenya reserve, but they had finished
flowering. The next day we went along Rooiwal Road. Here we saw Ixia thomasiae,
Romulea alba and Romulea monadelpha in flower. Further along the road there were
some spectacular Gladiolus splendens to be seen as well as some very dark forms of
Gladiolus orchidiflorus. This is a trip well worth repeating next year.
BULB CHAT                            NOVEMBER 2002                                No. 33


Once again an interesting Moraea story. At the exhibition that we had with the Clivia Club a
member had a pot of Moraea barnardii on show. The plants were all about 10 – 15 cm tall.
Johan Loubser tells us that this is about normal for this species when in cultivation. In the wild
the plants could be taller but they tend to shrink in cultivation. He also told us about the time
that he had collected this delightful Moraea and had taken it to Kirstenbosch to be identified.
On the steps of the herbarium he met one of the botanists, Tom Barnard, who immediately
identified it as the Moraea that was named after him.


Many different Watsonia species have flowered during the last two months. Near Paarl there
are many pink Watsonia marginata plants in flower at present and they should be flowering all
through November. Watsonia marginata is the only Watsonia species with actinomorphic
flowers. All the other Watsonias have zygomorphic flowers. The leaves of Watsonia marginata
are distinctive. The grey leaves are unusually broad and have thickened margins.
The monograph on Watsonias by Peter Goldblatt is out of print and any members who could
still lay their hands on new copies should do so. The price of this book is going to start
escalating in the near future.


We have heard that another new Babiana was found in the Klein Karoo near Oudtshoorn. It is
apparently one of the actinomorphic species. Flowering time is September. We are waiting for
more detail from the professionals.


November is a rather dull month for botanising so let‟s try to make the best of it. You could see
Gladiolus undulatus all along the road on Bain‟s Kloof. There are also more than one species
of Watsonia flowering on Bain‟s Kloof at this time of the year. The bright orange Watsonia
stenosiphon is flowering strongly around Kleinmond. Near Betty‟s Bay you should still find
Gladiolus carneus flowering on the undeveloped plots. It is the pink variety with strong
markings on the lower tepals – the real “painted lady”. Ixia paniculata can be seen in flower in
damp areas around Durbanville. We have for some unknown reason found this species
difficult to get to flower well in cultivation. Maybe we are not keeping them wet enough during
the growing season. Near Cape Point the bright red Watsonia tabularis comes into flower
towards the end of November. It is always worth your while to go to the Cape Point Nature
Reserve during November and December, because you will surely see bulbous and cormous
plants of interest there. Watsonia borbonica is also found at Cape Point at this time of the
year. If you are very lucky you could also find Gladiolus vigilans at the C.P. Nature Reserve.
This rare plant has a very localised distribution in some of the hills in the C.P. Nature Reserve.
The flower resembles G carneus but the leaves have thickened margins and midrib.
Near Rawsonville, along the road to the jail at Worcester, you should find tall Ixias. The
flowers are mauve and they have a dark green central spot. This plant has never been
positively identified, but they have done well in a pot for the past 8 years. Near Goudini Spa
Ixia metelerkampiae can be found at this time of the year. The flowers are pale pink to mauve
with a maroon central star. If you are feeling lucky go and search for Ixia cochlearis on the
slopes of the Jonkershoek and Banhoek Mountains near Stellenbosch. This pink Ixia was last
seen there in 1944. Imagine if an IBSA member could find this plant again after 58 years!!

Since many of our new members have come to us from clubs such as the Clivia Club where
they were experienced mainly with rhizomes and tubers some general hints on bulb/corm
cultivation seems only fair.
 1. Distinguish your potting between bulbs and corms. The bigger bulbs have mostly persistent
    roots – usually large fleshy ones not unlike orchids – and these should be kept moist but
    not wet. Corms, on the other hand, must be allowed to be completely dry during dormancy.
 2. Very roughly it could be said that corms begin to be active 3 months before flowering. A
    minimal amount of water can be given at the start of the 3 months but in general watering
    should not start seriously until the first shoot appears. Even then water should be applied
    sparingly and continue in proportion to the amount of stem and/or leaf that develops.
 3. In most cases ( and particularly in large ones ) bulbs are not specific to soil, but corms
    generally are. Thus corms from Fynbos prefer acid sandy soil whereas those from
    Renosterbos grow in neutral or fairly acid loam derived from dolerite or slates.
 4. All pots must be well drained. If more water is needed, water more frequently rather than
    reducing the drainage.
 5. At the onset of dormancy do not normally try to delay it by continuing watering. Taper off
    your watering as dormancy develops. The only exception to this is that first year seedlings
    are usually too small to store sufficient moisture so very slight and infrequent watering
    ( mere moisturising ) can be an advantage during dormancy in the first year.
 6. All bulbous and cormous plants grow in cool soil but flower in warm sun so arrange matters
    so that the sun does not strike the sides of the pots, heating the subsoil. One way of
    achieving this if you are using plastic pots is to glue shade cloth to the exerted rim of the
    pot. Other methods will occur to you.
 7. Stone chips for drainage must not be placed so as to block the drainage holes. The chip
    base needs to be not less than 3cm. This dictates the depth of pot required. It must be
    deep enough that the vertical roots are free above the stone chips.
 8. Some growers layer the soil in the pot with different size of soil particle below, at, above the
    corm and on the surface. Do not try that until you are experienced. Start with a single mix
 9. Our plants do not prefer strong nitrogen therefore do not use manure or a commercial
    fertilizer with a high nitrogen content. When you are first learning you do better not to use
    fertilizer at all because it can do more harm than good if wrongly applied.
10.There is no standard potting mix because the water-retaining property of loams vary. A mix
    of 4 parts sand to 1 part loam is fairly safe, but if the loam is water-retaining increase the
    sand element.
11 Beware of mulching. It keeps the soil surface cool but it often allows mildews etc to grow
    and it protects insect predators.
12 If your leafage develops yellow you are over watering. If the plant grows lank and floppy, it
    is a sign of not only over watering but also too much shade.
13 Sow seed fairly thickly. The seedlings distribute nutrients through roots that touch each
    other and you will get better and stronger germination.
14 Do not start by trying to grow rare and difficult species. Start with fairly common ones and
    do not initially try to grow too many species. Lachenalias are generally easy to grow and
    make good learning species. Any experienced member will be able to suggest easy
    species to start you off.
15 Translocated bulbs and corms ( particularly corms ) are liable to sulk, so do not ignore
    seed. It will teach you more and give you more permanent good results.
16 As you progress learn to know your plants, their likes and dislikes. Make notes as you go
17. A plant uses a lot of energy to make seed and in most of our plants there is far more seed
     in a single pod than you are likely to want so do not allow many pods to form. Let the
     energy rather go into making next year‟s plant. Two or three good pods are ample. Pick off
     the other dead heads once you see sufficient pods forming, usually at the bottom of the
18. Having sown your seed thickly the time will come to prick out. This is usually in the second
     year and the time to do it is when the seedling has gone dormant. NOT BEFORE THEN.
    When you prick out make sure the pots into which you put the specimens you want to
    keep are wide enough to allow the young plants to develop.
19. Bulbs are perennials : the new year‟s specimen grows from the previous year‟s bulb. The
     new year‟s corm grows from the previous year‟s corm by absorbing from it all its nutrients
     and the old corm shrivels and dies. In both cases it is advisable not to lift mature
    specimens between seasons. The less you interfere the less chance there is of sulking
     and trauma.
20. Do not get all up tight to start with over diseases etc. Learn to grow before you set up as a
     plant doctor. If there are definite signs of ill health ( not just impatience ) you will need to
     get advice but it is very seldom that when you start with reasonably common species you
     will have trouble. Just make sure that what you sow looks healthy and free of insect
     predators or fungus etc.
These are guidelines, they are not rules! If you want rules take note of the following :
 Know your plant. Read up about what you are going to plant. This will enable you to know
 when it is going to flower, does it need a dry dormant period, can it take full sun.
 Bulbs and corms in pots demand good drainage, corms even more than bulbs.
 Never pot your newly acquired plants into pots filled with the soil from the collection site. You
 are going to compromise drainage. If you want to use some of the collected soil sterilize it
 with boiling water and spread it out on the surface of the pot. The nutrients will leach into the
Experienced growers : please don‟t push beginners too far and too fast. A beginner will learn
more from a Gladiolus alatus than from a Gladiolus caryophyllaceus. When he or she can
grow G. alatus successfully then advance to more difficult species – G tristis and G carneus
are also good starters for beginners, both from seed or growing corms.


WANTED : Members who are interested in growing one pot of seed. The pot and the seed will
be supplied. The seed is of a common species. This would be particularly suitable for new
members who have not previously tried growing Irids from seed. Phone – 021 5586537


One of our overseas members is touring our country at present. He only grows scented plants.
Our Chairman gave him directions to this extremely beautiful Gladiolus, somewhere in
Mpumalanga. The known site had unfortunately been used for housing but our member found
flowering specimens nearby when he looked for similar soil to what he saw at the original site.
Gladiolus pardalinus is a tall plant ( up to 55 cm high ) with pale yellow flowers. The flowers
have striking dark red markings. Flowering time is from mid-October to November. Pardalinus
means leopard-like, so named because of the flowers. This is a summer rainfall species well
worth cultivating if you can get hold of seed. Unfortunately this plant was not illustrated in the
Gladiolus book by Goldblatt and Manning. It was at first regarded as a minor variant of the
more widespread Gladiolus woodii, but is in fact a taller and sturdier plant than G woodii.
Gladiolus pardalinus has 3 or even 4 smooth leaves compared to G woodii which under
normal circumstances also has 3 or 4 leaves but only one leaf when not flowering. Gladiolus
woodii leaves are slightly hairy. Gladiolus pardalinus flowers have a faint acrid odour.
G pardalinus was discovered in 1957 by L.E. Codd but as previously mentioned the new
discovery was lumped with Gladiolus woodii by Amelia Obermeyer when she completed G.J.
Lewis‟s revision of Gladiolus in South Africa.

This is a rare Lachenalia found in the mountains of the interior of the Eastern Cape. Plants
have become available from The Croft Nursery in Stutterheim. The flower colour ranges from
pure white to red to even a dark purple. Lachenalia campanulata has a dense inflorescence.
The flowers are spreading to horizontal. The stamens are exserted and a bright yellow. The
plants have 2 slightly erect linear leaves. Flowering time is right now ( November ) in
cultivation. Members who are interested in plants of the Eastern Cape should get into contact
with The Croft Nursery for their catalogue – 043 6832796.


Most violet, purple and blue flowers, and also many red and brown ones, owe their colour to
pigments – Anthocyanins – dissolved in the cell-sap. Anthocyanins occur in flowers, coloured
roots and coloured stems as well as in the variegated leaves of some plants. When
Anthocyanins occur in flowers they naturally serve to attract insects for pollination.
Anthocyanins are capable of changing their colour which depends upon the reaction of the sap
of the cells in which they occur. The colour is red when the sap is acid and blue when it is
alkaline in reaction. When a coloured leaf is boiled in water, Anthocyanins are extracted and
the leaf then appears greenish due to the presence of chlorophyll.


We have discussed soils in previous Bulb Chats but because water and the mineral salts
utilized by the plants are, almost exclusively obtained from the soil a knowledge of soils in its
different aspects will always be helpful.
Soils are formed by the disintegration and decomposition of rocks due to weathering and the
action of soil organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, earthworms, etc. Soils are also formed
through interactions of various chemical substances present in the soil.
Physically, soil is a mixture of mineral particles of varying sizes – coarse and fine – of different
degrees, some angular and others rounded, with a certain amount of decaying organic matter
in it. The properties of a particular type of soil depend largely on the size of the particles it is
composed of, and are determined mainly by the proportion of clay present in it. On this basis,
soils may be classified into the following types :
 1) Sandy soil, containing about 10% each of clay and silt with a large proportion of sand,
 2) Clay soil, containing 40% or more of clay,
 3) Loam, containing 30-50% of silt, a small amount of clay (5-25%), the rest being sand.
Sandy soil is well aerated, because it is porous. Because it allows easy percolation of water
through large pore spaces between its particles it dries up quickly and often remains dry.
Clay soil, on the other hand, is badly aerated and it easily becomes water logged. Clay soil
has a great capacity for retaining water because the particles are very fine. Drainage in clay
soil is difficult. Clay soil is heavy, easily becomes compact, and cracks when dried up. Clay
particles are mainly made of oxides of aluminium and are bound up with certain minerals, such
as Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. A considerable amount of plant food is, however
available in clay soil.
Loam is the best soil for vigorous plant growth. It is porous for better aeration and for
downward movement of excess water. It can retain water for a considerable time. Loam is rich
in organic food.
Another important soil of the Western Cape is Calcareous soil. It contains more than 20%
Calcium Carbonate. Calcium Carbonate is useful in neutralizing organic acids formed from
humus. Calcareous soil is whitish in colour. This is also known as Limestone found near
Bredasdorp as well as around Saldanha. Growing on this we find our Limestone endemics,
such as Gladiolus caeruleus, Gladiolus miniatus, Freesia elimensis, Lachenalia muirii,
Watsonia fergusoniae and Cyrtanthus leucanthus.
BULB CHAT                              JANUARY 2003                                 No. 34


At last it has arrived. After waiting for about 5 years we finally held a copy of “ Color
Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs” by Manning, Goldblatt and Snijman in our grubby paws.
The book is undoubtedly the “Bible” of bulbous plants of the Cape and in fact no other book or
guide for the same area would be needed if you have this book. It covers the area enclosed in
the botanical definition of the Cape Floral Kingdom and therefore excludes Namaqualand, the
Richtersveld and adjacent areas of Namibia. This is undoubtedly a pity and we have
discussed this matter in IBSA bulletins recently. This will not preclude you identifying some
Namaqualand plants which have spread into the Cape Floral Kingdom, but it is a limitation.
The book starts with introductory sections which include Geophysical and Soil particulars
which will be of the utmost use to collectors and growers because they can then focus their
attention on the right sort of habitat and soil, saving a great deal of time and mileage in
“wildcat” exploration. Obviously a book of this magnitude will be useful to people with different
areas of interest. Thus a Botanist will use it in a botanical interest whereas a horticulturist will
use it for a slightly different purpose. The field collector or photographer will definitely have
another usage for this magnificent book. It covers the subject so widely that there is something
in it for every interest.
For those members who can read and use keys to identification there is an unusual feature in
that the keys are grouped together at the back of the book. This is a distinct advantage in that
it makes it easier to find a key and when one is unsure about identification as between 2
different genera it makes it easier to compare 2 keys which are nearly adjacent.
The book is compiled by the 3 pre-eminent bulbous experts of the South African Botanical
Establishment and they list the authorities which they recognise and use. The Botanist or IBSA
member who wants to research more deeply thus has a ready reference of the literature.
The page format is easy to read, with decent size print and better than average sized photos.
The color reproduction is good. The photographs are bright and vibrant. Members must
remember that in many species there are color varieties, so that the specific photographs may
not be exactly the same as the color of the plant that you are researching or trying to identify.
You must never be misled by a color form.
The overall presentation of the book is impeccable. It is indeed a great guide to the Bulbous
Flora of the Cape. The authors should be congratulated on sharing their immense knowledge
in such a pleasurable way. A mouth-watering book to be enjoyed by all, professional botanist
and amateur alike.
We note with pleasure that the contribution of IBSA is acknowledged in the preface by the fact
that this great work is dedicated to our current chairman, Mr Andries de Villiers.


The brochure advertising our symposium in August 2003 has gone off. We have received
numerous enquiries, both from local and abroad. Please consider to come and join us,
because we are aiming to make it the definitive IBSA event of 2003 and even of years to
come. Dr Dee Snijman, South African Amaryllidaceae authority, has already confirmed her
participation in the Symposium.
All IBSA members, as well as non-IBSA members, are welcome and we are looking forward to
seeing you at the Symposium. Get your application forms in to our chairman, or contact him if
you need application forms at IBSA
                              P.O. Box 12265
                              N 1 City 7463
                              South Africa.

One of our members got a corm of the Orange form of Gladiolus densiflorus from north of Kosi
Bay at the end of 2000. Bearing in mind that in the UK our Gladiolus sometimes sulk a whole
year before showing signs of life he decided to rest the corm for a whole year on an open
polystyrene tray in his study. It was potted up in June 2002. At the beginning of January 2003
this plant started flowering. There were 13 flowers on the spike – all facing in the same
direction. At the time of flowering the plant was 50 cm tall and had 7 leaves. This plant was
obviously one of the smaller specimens because G densiflorus could be 45 – 120 cm tall, have
8 or 9 leaves and anything from 12 to 25 flowers on a spike.


Bothalia 32.2 pp 133-150 comprises a revision entitled “ Systematics of the Genus Daubenya “
with a full diagnosis and discussion supported by line drawings and colour photographs of all
the species in the genus. It is a „must‟ for all Daubenya collectors and growers. Members are
strongly recommended to acquire a copy. No doubt Silverhill Seeds may be able to help in this
respect. It is also very useful for Massonia collectors if only to see where their erstwhile spp
have gone to and taken Neobakeria with them. The authors, Drs Manning and van der Merwe
have done an outstanding job of this. The introduction comprises morphology, distribution and
ecology, pollination and seed dispersal, evolution and taxonomic history. The eight colour
photographs occupy the inside cover and are arranged to facilitate easy comparison. This is
the only place where it stumbles. The photos are lettered A to H but in fact the species are
those numbered 1 to 8. Species 5 ( photo E ) is particularly useful in that it reminds one that
Daubenya alba is as often coloured as it is white ( alba ).


Novon 12 :352-359 published these two new Moraea species. Moraea cantharophila is closely
allied to Moraea lurida. It occurs between the foot of Sir Lowry‟s Pass and Sandy‟s Glen near
Napier growing on loamy clay. The flowers are white or cream, the tepals darkly veined on the
outside. The outer tepals each have an orange or yellow nectar guide. The inner tepals each
have a broad purple-brown central band and pinkish edge. Since Moraea lurida occurs only on
coarse sandy substrate habitat is a help to identification. Moraea lilacina is closely allied to
Moraea unguiculata. It occurs in loamy soil mostly wedged in broken sandstone rock. The
flowers are pale pink flushed to lilac-pink on the reverse of the outer tepals, fading to darker
pink. The outer tepals have a bright yellow nectar guide.


Notwithstanding some differences in the colour of the markings these two species are reduced
in Novon 12 to a single species under the earlier name tulbaghensis . The reasons for this are
explained in detail on page 357 of Novon 12. The original differences between M neopavonia
and M tulbaghensis were described in Bulbchat 31 of September 2002. We are back to the
question of what constitutes a species as well as to the old problem of the differences of
opinion of “lumpers” and “splitters”.


New species of Lachenalia continue to dribble out. The latest is Lachenalia valeriae named for
Valerie Fay Anderson, the botanical artist. Lachenalia valeriae grows in the sandy coastal
plain of Namaqualand. The type locality is near the mouth of the Buffels River and it probably
extends to the mouth of the Holgat River. It is published in Bothalia 32.2 pp 190-192. A copy of
this Bothalia has been placed in the IBSA library.

This has been renamed and is now Moraea flexicaulis. A few corms of this Moraea were given
to us to grow on. It was planted in the normal sandy mixture on 21-04-2002. During the
complete growing season of 2002 not a single leaf showed. On checking the pot during early
January 2003 the corms were found to be in perfect condition. The lesson to learn is that
some corms and bulbs tend to sulk and not show any growth above ground. They are often
alive and well. Do not throw pots out without checking the contents. You might get a huge
surprise. Novon 12 also includes some useful information for collectors about Moraea saxicola
and Moraea rivulicola. A copy of Novon 12 pages 352-359 has been placed in the IBSA


In Gladiolus pubigerus the specific name is Latin meaning hairy. In Latin a „g‟ is usually hard
but becomes soft when followed by „e‟ so „gerus‟ ( „e‟ after „g‟ ) is a soft sound. Often one
hears pubigerus pronounced as two hard sounds - PUBI-JERRUS. This is wrong. The
correct pronunciation puts the main emphasis on PU and then elides the BIGERUS into one
soft syllable PU-BIGERUS, almost PU-BIG‟RUS with a soft „g‟ as in „German‟ and not a hard
„g‟ as in „gun‟.
When Hilliard and Burtt collected it in the 197O‟s they thought it was a new species and
named it G. pugioniformis, presumably from the shape and length of the basal leaf, making the
rather odd name “ sword in the shape of a dagger “ ( Gladiolus – a sword and Pugio – a
dagger ). This Gladiolus is difficult to spot in the late spring grass but once found is easy to
identify from the leaf ( not the flower )


Members may remember that some years ago there was considerable interest in a Gladiolus
from Onrust : obverses white, reverses very faintly flushed pink and two magenta spots deep
in the bases of the tepals. Some of us felt that this deserved separate classification, but Drs
Goldblatt and Manning felt that this was no more than a local form of Gladiolus carneus. In mid
November while surveying the roads between Napier and Elim we found a group of these
plants in strong flower besides the P 1217.
We surveyed the two areas where Gladiolus inflexus had been reported in the past, P1219
km 6 and P 1217 in the only significant vlei beside the road. Opposite the P1219 site we saw
two dormant Gladiolus plants, still with a small amount of seed in the pods. The specimens
were too far gone to be firmly identified. Gladiolus inflexus flowers in July, so seed adhering in
mid November seems a little unlikely. These two roads ( and others in the area ) give promise
of useful visits in Spring.


As a footnote to Bulb Chat No 33 we should mention that the exact type locality of Gladiolus
pardalinus is now wrecked by a squatter settlement but there are specimens growing within
the area as described in Gladiolus of Southern Africa. There are also other gladiolus including
Gladiolus woodii found in the same area                                                        .
One of our members found a very robust (6OO mm) Gladiolus permeabilis between the old
railway stations Misgund and Ongelegen in the Lang Kloof. The gladiolus is possibly G.
permeabilis ssp edulis. The member also commented on Gladiolus robertsoniae at the
junction of the R 23 and R 547. This is a white flowering Gladiolus of the summer-rainfall
areas of Mpumalanga and the adjacent Free State province. In 2OO1 a very large colony was
flowering strongly on wet black-cotton soil. In 2OO2 only a few were visible. The soil had dried
to a consistency of concrete. Flowering time is October to late November.

Early in January Allan Hill had excellent flowering in a pot of Gladiolus scabridus. Gladiolus
scabridus is a summer-rainfall species from the northern KwaZulu-Natal area with large pink
flowers and white nectar guides. It is dangerous to generalise on the basis of 1 pot, but certain
features were so prominent that they deserve recording.
The literature suggests that branching is uncommon. In this pot the branching is strong and
numerous, each branch displaying flower. The budding spikes exude a sweet sticky liquid and
are heavily visited by ants. This ceases as soon as the flowers open and the ants then
disperse back to the soil. This phenomenon is not mentioned in the literature and G scabridus
is the only Gladiolus where extra-floral nectar production is known to occur.
Gladiolus scabridus can be up to 1 m tall. They have 7 – 9 sword-shaped leaves. The large
pink flowers are seen during December and January.The plant makes plenty viable spawn as
seen by the fact that the pot is crammed full of young plants.
Allan Hill grew this gladiolus from seed. He has been extremely successful in growing the
summer-rainfall species and will share some of his knowledge with us at the January monthly
meeting. We can surely all learn something from him.


We have been asked by several members where this illusive species might be found and
photographed. We have no information beyond that available to members as a whole.
However we have tried to pinpoint some of the localities listed in Lewis and Obermeyer. This
has been very difficult but we think we have located the area of the Linley collection. If we are
right, which we may not be, it may in fact grow on a farm road to a farm Vygkraal off the
Fontain to Botrivier road. The farm road starts at about 7 km from opposite what appears to be
a closed farm stall and runs south west parallel to a stream marked on the map as Bankloof-
river. Unfortunately the farm road no longer exists though one can trace where it had been.
There is a gateway on the south side of the farm stall. Enquiry from a farmer at Witklip just
short of the farm stall confirmed that the road no longer existed and that the stream is locally
known as the Botriver. From the main road a walk of approximately 2 km would be necessary
to reach the Gladiolus brevitubus area. There are notices on the fences both before and after
the abandoned entrance warning that trespassers would be shot so the co-operation of the
farmers would be essential. We make no guarantee but if we were 25 years younger we would
try it.


While in Gauteng for Xmas we visited Johan and Leigh Nieuwoudt at “ Simply Indigenous
Nursery “. They complained that there was not enough horticultural advice in Bulb Chat and
the Bulletin about growing Summer Rainfall species in the Summer Rainfall region. They were
quite right but it must start with the Gauteng members. It is pointless Cape growers offering
theoretical advice about horticulture in Gauteng. Articles must flow southwards and will be
very gratefully received. We suggested that members within range of Johannesburg might get
together monthly or every two months to swap experience, not as a formal branch of IBSA but
as a means of spreading information and news.
IBSA members are always on the lookout for new sources of plant material. Simply Indigenous
Nursery has an extensive bulb and corm list, starting at Agapanthus campanulatus and ending
at Zantedeschia aethiopica. Along the way there are interesting plants such as Brunsvigia
grandiflora and B gregaria, Crinum buphanoides, C delagoense and C graminicola, Cyrtanthus
contractus and C smithii, Eucomis vandermerwei, Gladiolus elliotii, Haemanthus humilis,
Nerine laticoma and N gracilis, Strumaria tenella ssp orientalis and Watsonias such as W.
coccinea, W confusa, W amatolae and W densiflora. What an interesting list !!! If you are
interested in growing these plants contact Leigh Nieuwoudt at: (012) 2071077.
BULB CHAT                                 APRIL 2003                               No. 35

The genus Kniphofia is not extensively represented in the collections of IBSA members. At
intervals a Kniphofia species would appear at the discussion tables at IBSA monthly meetings.
Recently Kniphofia triangularis, bought from The Croft, flowered. The plant is growing in a 25
cm pot in a 50/50 compost/sand mixture. Kniphofia triangularis has narrow, grass-like leaves.
The flowers are pendulous and flower color ranges from coral-red to red-orange to orange-
yellow. Kniphofia triangularis is found in mountain grassland, often in peaty soil and on grassy
slopes and other moist places. It is found in the Eastern Cape, KZN, Lesotho and the Orange
Free State. This is one of the smaller kniphofias and ideally suited for cultivation in pots.
The genus Kniphofia was named in honour of Johannes Hieronymus Kniphof, a German
professor of Medicine. Professor Kniphof was extremely interested in Botany and one of his
best known works was entitled Botanica in Originali. It comprised 1200 botanical illustrations
which were produced by a somewhat unique process, whereby dried plant specimens were
coated with printer‟s ink and pressed on paper, resulting in a silhouette effect. This was an
adaptation from a earlier method in which the plant specimens were blackened by holding them
over the smoke of a candle or oil lamp; by placing these between sheets of paper and rubbing
them down with a smoothing bone, the lamp-black was transferred to the paper. One of the
illustrations depicts the species then known as Aloe uvaria which later became the type species
of the genus Kniphofia.
Kniphofias belong to the Family Asphodelaceae. 45 species are recognized in South Africa. The
subterranean part of the plant consists of a thick rhizome from which arise numerous fleshy
roots. All species of Kniphofia have non-succulent leaves and this is a useful character for
separating them from the closely related genus Aloe.
Other Kniphofias that would be suitable to grow in pots include Kniphofia sarmentosa, K uvaria,
K tabularis, K tysonii, K rooperi, K littoralis, K elegans and the very interesting K northiae. The
seed of Kniphofia sarmentosa and K tysonii is available on the current IBSA mail order seed list.
Kniphofia northiae has broad leaves up to 1,5 m long and up to 12 cm broad. The leaves are
shallowly channeled, arched and lack a distinct keel. The plant are normally solitary and huge,
up to 1,7 m tall. The buds are usually pale red changing to creamy-white flowers. There is
another colour form growing in Natal, in which the buds are orange-red to flame-red, changing
to yellow as the flowers open.
Kniphofias hybridize readily when two or more species flower together in a garden. Beware
when buying Kniphofia species from commercial nurseries. You might end up labeling hybrids
as species.

This Brunsvigia was first described in 1951 as being different from Brunsvigia josephinae.
Brunsvigia litoralis is found in coastal sand from Knysna to Port Elizabeth. It is one of the largest
Brunsvigias with a large underground bulb, up to about 18 upright, greyish, smooth leaves and
an umbel of deep red flowers with some yellow flecking. Brunsvigia litoralis differs from Bruns-
vigia josephinae because B litoralis has an underground bulb as opposed to a bulb that is nearly
50% exposed above ground level as well as the smaller proportions of the perianth, the shorter
anthers and the leaves with a half twist near the apex. The name litoralis has been given
because of the coastal habitat as opposed to the inland habitat of Brunsvigia josephinae. Bruns-
vigia litoralis, B. orientalis and B. josephinae are the three red flowering Brunsvigias adapted for
bird pollination. These three species have curved pedicels for the sunbirds to sit on when
looking for nectar and pollinating the flowers.
Brunsvigia litoralis will flower in cultivation if planted in deep sand. They flower at regular
intervals ( 3 – 5 years ) when grown in the garden in the Western Cape. Flowering time is
The annual Kirstenbosch Garden Fair and Plant Sale was held on the weekend of 8-9 March
2003. Over the last few years the amount of bulbous and cormous species offered had declined
dramatically. In my opinion there were a few special plants on offer.This included Aristea biflora,
an extremely rare Aristea from the Caledon and Grayton areas. This evergreen, rhizomatous,
clump forming plant has large lilac to purple flowers. It grows in loamy clay soil in the
renosterveld and flowers from August to October. Aristeas are not commonly grown as potted
specimens but this one would be worth the effort.
The next two interesting plants that were on offer belong to the interesting group called “ the
woody iridaceae” . These are in fact evergreen shrubs that have woody aerial stems. Nivenia
corymbosa and Nivenia stokoei were on sale. Nivenia corymbosa has a deep blue, flat-topped
inflorescence. Nivenia corymbosa occurs from Bains Kloof to near Tulbagh. It is always found
close to water. It flowers in the late summer. The flowers only last one day and would normally
be wilted by the next day. Nivenia corymbosa is pollinated by bees. The style, as well as the
filaments, of Nivenia corymbosa can be of two different lengths. This leads to the term
heterostylous – meaning styles of two different lengths. We also find this in Geissorhiza
heterostyla from the Roggeveld.
Nivenia stokoei was named in honor of T.P. Stokoe who discovered many high-altitude plants
during his long career as plant collector and mountaineer. Nivenia stokoei have pale to deep
blue flowers, but the flowers are not heterostylous. It grows in nutrient-poor soil derived from
sandstone. It is found from Bettys Bay and Kleinmond at sea level to the mountains near
Caledon. It would be worth the effort to try and grow these interesting plants. Keep them moist
all year round and keep them under 50% shade for success.
Some of the other interesting corms available included a few different Watsonias with Watsonia
coccinea, Watsonia humilis and Watsonia hysterantha of particular interest. Watsonia
hysterantha is an extremely rare watsonia from the Saldanha Bay area where it grows on
granite outcrops. It flowers in early Winter before the leaves had developed. This Watsonia was
on the front cover of Veld & Flora of September 2002. In that issue Graham Duncan describes
ten Watsonias suitable for cultivation in containers. It is well worth reading his article.

According to Graham Duncan in the Kirstenbosch Gardening Series publication on the growing
of Nerines Nerine pusilla is an extremely rarely collected Nerine and completely unknown in
cultivation. At the January monthly meeting one of our members showed his pot of Nerine
pusilla which was flowering for the first time. The natural distribution of this Nerine is in the
eastern as well as the western parts of Namibia. It flowers during December and January,
depending on the rainfall. The flowers are white or pale pink, with darker, central keels.
Considering the area that it comes from and the erratic rainfall that it gets in its natural habitat it
would be advisable to grow Nerine pusilla in well drained sandy soil and to give it occasional
heavy waterings during the summer growing period.

No, this is not what some members suffer from because they do not like Lachenalias. This is in
actual fact a Contact Dermatitis ( a type of eczema ) that some members suffer from when they
touch the bulbs of Lachenalias. There is a crystal in dry Lachenalia bulbs that causes this
allergic reaction. Luckily, only a few unfortunate people respond this way. The allergic reaction
could vary from only a mild skin irritation with itching to a more severe reaction with severe
itching, swollen eyes and even urticaria (hives). As in all aspects of life there are always those
people who take everything to the extreme – when it comes to allergic reactions nothing is more
extreme than death. Please take care when handling your Lachenalia bulbs.
In our last issue we wrote that Gladiolus scabridus is the only Gladiolus in which extra-floral
nectar is produced. We were wrong. It also occurs in Gladiolus pole-evansii.This phenomenon
is known as guttation which the dictionary describes as loss of water from the surfaces of a
plant in the form of liquid drops rather than vapour. Dr Manning observed very large ants on
the G. pole-evansii. It has been suggested that this is a method of relieving the plant of excess
water. It is also suggested that it is intended to attract ants as deterrent to herbivores and
nectar robbers. G pole-evansii and G scabridus are in different sections according to Goldblatt
and Manning. Gladiolus pole-evansii belongs to Section Ophiolyza : Series Oppositiflorus and
Gladiolus scabridus belongs to Section Densiflorus : Series Scabridus . It therefore seems
unlikely that the characteristic of guttation implies any closer relationship.
If the ant theory is correct we are back at the risk of imputing intent which many people deny is
an attribute of plants. Members should look out for guttation in other bulbous plants and report
it to Bulb Chat.

We have been advised by Goudini Spa, the location for the Symposium, that they do not need
final figures before the end of June 2003. We have therefore been able to extend the closing
date for bookings to the end of May. During June we will make the final bookings and pay over
all the monies owed to Goudini Spa. This means that you have more time to book if you have
not done so yet. Most of the speakers have confirmed their participation. We are extremely
thankful for the large amount of overseas members who are going to come and join us. This is
surely going to be the biggest IBSA event ever! If you want to book please contact our new
Secretary, Chris Schultz at the normal IBSA address.

A plant, which is claimed to be only the sixth new genus discovered in Britain and North
America in the last 100 years, has been published 12 years after discovery. Those years have
been taken up with “ scientific checks and a nation wide search for other colonies”. It is a
groundsel found in the City of York. It is thought to be a natural hybrid between the Common
Groundsel and the Oxford Ragwort, itself a colonist from the Isles of Sicily in the early 1800s.So
perhaps we should not be impatient when some of our new species discoveries are not
published as soon as we would like.

Following on on the theme of sharing information, the following is an extract from a letter written
by Andries de Villiers in about 1998 to the current Editor of Bulb Chat.
Syringodea pulchella : Flowers in March and April. Between Middelburg and Graaff Reinet and
                        on the Middelburg – Somerset East plateau.
Syringodea concolor : Widespread from Prieska to Victoria West and from Colesburg to
                         Queenstown. Also found near Grahamstown.
Syringodea bifurcata : Widespread from Colesburg to Stutterheim and Willowmore. Also found
                         near Grahamstown.
Syringodea flanaganii : Found between Port Elizabeth and Stutterheim.
Syringodea derustensis : Very local on a stony koppie on the farm Drinkrivier near De Rust,
                         north of Oudtshoorn.
These are some of the Syringodeas found in the Karoo, if we can call Port Elizabeth the Karoo.
Haemanthus canaliculatus was seen in flower near Betty‟s Bay on the 21 st of March 2003. The
area where it was seen to flower had burnt in the preceding months. This Haemanthus is known
to only flower after summer fires. It was first collected after a fire in 1943 and then not seen
again until 1960. Thereafter it was seen in 1970 and 1982. Since 1992 it has been seen in
flower more often. This is the fourth time that I have seen it flowering since 1992.
If we stick to the theory that this Haemanthus flowers after fire had cleared the area as well as
the dense Fynbos covering the plants we could argue that it is the reason for suddenly seeing
them flowering at shorter intervals. With so many fires raging through that area over the last ten
years we have come to a situation of “permanent” clearing. It is now taking longer for the
surrounding Fynbos to recover from the fires. The question that now arises is the following :
could these plants keep on flowering year after year? The bulb of Haemanthus canaliculatus is
made up of loose, fleshy tunics. Not the biggest and most awe inspiring bulbs in the genus
Haemanthus. In fact, the have some of the smaller bulbs in this genus. Do these bulbs need a
rest period of more than one year before they can flower again?
Haemanthus coccineus and H. sanguineus are the only other Haemanthus species found in
areas of Fynbos where fires frequently occur. They occupy more open stands and flower
regularly, although particularly good displays are seen after summer fires. If you look at the size
of the bulbs of these two species you will find that they are at the top of the range when it comes
to bulb size in the genus Haemanthus.

At the AGM at the end of February Gordon Summerfield exhibited a pot of Nerine gracilis. This
species is not common in cultivation but judging from what Gordon‟s pot looked like it could
become extremely desirable. The pale pink flowers are cup-shaped and upright.
Nerine gracilis occurs in Mpumalanga and the eastern parts of Gauteng. In the past it grew in
large colonies but most of these have now disappeared due to excessive overgrazing.
Flowering time is during February and flowering is spectacular during wet years.

At the monthly meeting at the end of March, Robin Jangle gave us some of his ideas about the
direction IBSA is moving in as well as the direction he thinks IBSA should be moving in. Some
thought provoking ideas were put forward.
Sharing of information as well as plant material is an ideal we should all embrace. Major strides
in this direction have been made since the early nineties. The discussions around the table of
exhibits are open to everyone and the idea is to get as much information from the growers of the
exhibits as possible. IBSA has also started going on organized outings to see rare plants in their
natural habitat. Nobody is excluded from these trips and we find it a great forum to teach
members the ethic of CONSERVATION.
The amount of seed available at the AGM is increasing every year. There were more than 200
different species available this year. The mail-order list for members who could not be at the
meeting also consists of more species than ever before. All members can now share in the seed
that becomes available. A huge THANK YOU must go to everybody who shared some of their
At the discussion table we had many magnificent pots of Nerines. There were Nerine filifolia, the
normal pink as well as white specimens. There was more than one pot of Nerine sarniensis. The
consensus was that to get them to flower successfully the pots had to be kept totally dry during
the resting season. Carol Turnley-Jones had a magnificent pot of Nerine rehmannii. The bulbs
originally came from Charles Craib, about 5 years ago as seedlings. Nerine humilis was also on
show. These were some of the smaller-flowering specimens that are found on Du Toit‟s Kloof. In
the past they were known as Nerine humilis var tulbaghensis or also as Nerine tulbaghensis.
BULB CHAT                                JUNE 2003                               No. 36

Due to unavoidable circumstances this months BULB CHAT is a collaboration by the Past and
the Current Editors of BULB CHAT. I thank Mr AT de Villiers for his time and effort – The Ed.

This would be your last chance to register for this exciting IBSA event. Closing date for final
bookings has to be the end of June. We are giving final figures to Goudini Spa early in July.
If you have not booked yet do so immediately. Those members who owe the balance of their
symposium fees should please send it to the Secretary, at the normal IBSA address.
We are looking forward to seeing and meeting all the delegates in August.

We had previously reported about the March Monthly Meeting. The fantastic pots of spectacular
Nerines that were on display had been discussed. The first Polyxenas to flower were seen as
well. Represented were Polyxena longituba, Polyxena corymbosa and Polyxena ensifolia var
maughanii. The last one we all knew as Polyxena maughanii up till last year. ( see IBSA bulletin
51 of October 2002 )

The allocation of seed by mail order has been an unpleasant experience this year. We tried to
ensure more seed available by reserving one third of each species from those submitted for the
AGM but we still experienced demands far in excess of availability. We would have 19 demands
but only one packet available. Many members will be disappointed and we are very sorry about
this. We have tried to even out the disappointments but it has been almost impossible to be fair.
At the same time we have many species which were not demanded or only a few packets
wanted. We were surprised at some of the small demands : Moraea loubseri, thought to have
been extinct for nearly a third of a century, was under-demanded. Tritonia florentiae, that very
beautiful and almost unknown species, was so under-demanded that we have 16 packets left
on hand. Moraea lurida is another example – We have about 40 packets left over. Since M.
lurida can be either black or golden it is worth sowing a lot of seed to ensure getting an example
of each colour

The world is warming. Many have tried to disprove this statement, but the best evidence points
to a disconcernable human impact on global climate. There remains huge debate however on
what this warming means for humans and the world we live in. It is plain to see that climate
changes will have an impact on our plants. Our plantlife is sensitive to weather and climate, as
is wonderfully clear every spring. Changes forecast for South Africa would include possibly
wetter winters but also drier summers. A rise in the sea-level will change the coastal
environment with subsequent flooding of certain areas rich in bulbs and corms. Other areas of
South Africa could possibly become too dry for many of the bulbs and corms presently growing
Climate change is possibly the biggest challenge that mankind has ever faced. It poses direct
threat to mankind and to the fragile ecological systems that support us and our bulbs and
corms. Can we afford to ignore the threat?
We are living through a revolution. For 250 years we have been loyal to the Linnaean concept
of cognate species grouped together into genera. A genus comprising those species which
shared a common or several common characteristics based primarily on a set of morphological
characteristics could be described and defined to distinguish it from any other genus. In
comparatively recent years a genus could be drawn as a cladogram to demonstrate the
mutations that must have occurred in the course of evolution to produce the separate species. It
was a tidy, logical and understandable progression not interrupted by specimens of other
genera. Now we are being subjected to a taxonomy based on DNA analysis, a science still in its
infancy, which discards morphology as the determinant of relationship and substitutes genetic
proximity. We in IBSA were first subjected to it by the revision of the genus Moraea which sunk
the genus Galaxia into the middle of Moraea. None of us liked it but few of us realized the
implications. Now if we were to draw a diagram of relationship we would have to extend a
straight line or several straight lines along which species of different genera are interspersed.
We would be creating a complex but, unlike a genus, the component species would have no
common identifiable characteristics. Such a complex could not be defined. Genus was an
inclusive concept, the component species all and only those which shared the determining
characteristics. A DNA complex would include many components which had diverse
characteristics and, moreover, would separate similar species by utterly different ones. When
DNA taxonomy is applied to Lachenalia, Polyxena and who knows what else we will find various
Lachenalia and Polyxena mixed helter skelter along the lines of relationship.
We need to remember one of the abiding features of a revolution. The generation which begins
it is not the generation which refines and developes it. A younger generation takes over and
introduces new and exciting applications. At present the Botanists who are leading the
revolution are still imbued with the Linnaean concept and will try to apply generic names to non
generic complexes. They will try to make definitions of disparate specimens. No doubt a new
generation will devise a taxonomy to take care of it all but it is doubtful whether any of us will
live to see it. Meanwhile we must stick to names that we can understand. To us a Galaxia is still
a Galaxia.

At the May monthly meeting we touched on Lachenalias with green flowers. The most well
known green Lachenalia is obviously Lachenalia viridiflora. At the meeting there were some
spectacular specimens on show.
Lachenalia viridiflora was discovered 50 years ago by Mr Harry Hall in August 1953 near
Vredenburg on the Cape West coast. This species has a very localized distribution in the
Vredenburg district. Lachenalia viridiflora is restricted to humus-rich, shallow depressions on the
granite outcrops. The two lanceolate, bright yellow-green leaves may be plain or darkly spotted.
The leaves are even occasionally pustulate. The inflorescence is racemose ( having pedicels )
and the flowers are cylindrical. The perianth segments are green or turquoise. The protruding
inner segments have whitish tips and a viridian green central stripe.
Lachenalia viridiflora does extremely well in cultivation and is highly sought after, because it
makes an attractive pot. It flowers early, May to July, when few other plants are flowering.
Lachenalia undulata is another Lachenalia with green flowers. This is another early flowering
species. The flowers are green to greenish-brown. The outstanding feature of this Lachenalia is
the undulate or crisped leaves. Lachenalia undulata flowers during May and June and they are
common around Klawer and Vanrhynsdorp. They belong to a group of Lachenalias which
includes Lach zebrina, Lach isopetala, Lach aurioliae and Lach obscura which tends to sulk in
the pots. Very often no growth is seen in the pots and when you scratch around in the soil you
find the bulb in perfect condition but not even attempting to make leaves. It would be helpful to
know what triggers growth in them.
The other obviously green flowering Lachenalia is Lachenalia aloides var vanzyliae. These
plants occur naturally in the Piketberg, Porterville and Cederberg mountain ranges. The one or
two leaves could be unmarked, but are usually densely marked on the upper surface. The
pendulous flowers are cylindrical ( Aloe like ). The outer segments of the flower are pale blue at
the base shading to light green. The protruding inner segments are yellowish green. According
to “ The Lachenalia Handbook “ this variety of Lachenalia aloides can become robust under
cultivation and multiplies rapidly. In practice this is not the case, because very few IBSA
members at present have specimens of Lachenalia aloides var vanzyliae growing. Flowering
time is September and October.
This variety was named after Mrs. L van Zyl who first introduced the plant to Kirstenbosch in
1927. This same Mrs. Van Zyl also grew a Romulea in her garden which Miriam de Vos thought
was a hybrid between Romulea subfistulosa and Romulea sabulosa.

It is worth repeating that it is a waste of effort pre-planning IBSA excursions for the Autumn
flowering of bulbous plants. They cannot be relied on to flower in the same place at the same
time year after year. Their flowering period is generally very short. The only useful expedient is
to mount a private expedition at very short notice when a report comes in. There just is not
enough time to alert all the ( local ) membership. On the weekend of 5/6 April Rod & Rachel
Saunders passed through Nieuwoudtville. They reported the start of what promised to be a
magnificent flowering. We were able to cobble together a party of 5 for the weekend of 12/13 th.
We saw acres upon acres of Brunsvigia bosmaniae such as you would not imagine. Two
members of our party passed through the locality the following weekend ( Easter ). Not one
flowering B. bosmaniae was to be seen. A preplanned excursion one week early or one week
late would have been a complete fiasco.

We have all experienced that some specimens of Empodium are scented while others, of the
same species, are not. Dee Snijman and John Manning have solved this problem. In most
flowers the scent cells are in the surface of the tepals but not in Empodium. The scent is carried
in an appendage on the tip of the anther and nowhere else. So long as the anthers remain
whole and undisturbed the flower will smell but when the appendage is damaged or lost by the
anther being broached the smell will be lost. If there are other plants with this peculiar
mechanism we must confess that we do not know of them but perhaps we should begin looking
more closely.

Two different Massonia species were on show at the May monthly meeting. They were
Massonia depressa and Massonia pustulata. These two Massonia species fall into different
groups when it comes to identification. The one group has large anthers ( more than 2,5 mm
long ) and the perianth tube has a wide mouth. Massonia depressa falls in this group. The other
representative of this group is Massonia grandiflora, a rare species found in the Karoo.
The other group has small anthers ( up to 2 mm long ) and the perianth tube is narrow.
Massonia pustulata as well as Massonia echinata and Massonia pygmaea are found in this
group. The two leaves are always prostrate, but pustulate leaves do not always mean that you
are looking at Massonia pustulata.
Massonias are winter-growing and undergo dormancy in summer. They look best when planted
singly in pots and need protection from snails and mealy-bugs.
The expedition to Nieuwoudtville had two aims : to view the B bosmaniae and to collect a
specimen of the pollinator of a whole guild of currently flowering plants. Since our aim was
simple and limited we drove up the N7 intending to photograph the B bosmaniae on the
Saturday, stay the night at the Van Wyk‟s guesthouse and visit the Gifberg on the way home on
the Sunday. We expected to find the pollinator most easily on the Gifberg. The first intimation
we had that the excursion might be different was the sight of a clump of about 20 Brunsvigia
orientalis in all the glory of their bright red flowers at km post 69. As we approached Klawer we
passed smallish colonies of Brunsvigia bosmaniae and Haemanthus coccineus, particularly at
km post 37,5. At the petrol station in Klawer there were Haemanthus crispus and H. coccineus.
Since it was still early on the Saturday we drove past Vanrhynsdorp up the N7 as far as the
Sishen-Saldanha rail bridge and checked the progress of Ixia acaulis and Babiana carmineus.
We also saw Brunsvigia radula in flower. We then retraced our steps and made for Nieuwoudt-
ville only to be stopped at the major bend at the bottom of the Pass. There were masses of
Hessea stellaris in strong pink bloom. At the top of the Pass there were several species in
bloom, notably Strumaria watermeyeri, Brunsvigia minor and Bulbine aloides.
The weather was perfect and from a distance we could see the Klipkoppies of the
Nieuwoudtville Nature Reserve rising out of a sea of pink. It was said that never before had
there been such a display and we could well believe it. Not only on the Klipkoppies but on every
farm around there were the same vast fields of massed B bosmaniae in a multiplicity of shading
of pink and white together and even a few pure white blossoms. Growing among them were little
white Strumaria tenella. We even saw and captured the pollinator that we sought so we had no
need to go onto the Gifberg on the Sunday and could return directly to Cape Town after a late

THE “TRIGGER” : A PERSONAL SPECULATION                                        A.T.de Villiers
What follows is my personal speculation, based on observation neither sufficiently broadly
based nor adequately researched. I believe it deserves proper botanical investigation to verify or
disprove it. Furthermore it is restricted to bulbous plants although I think the principle may apply
to corms but, if so, the mechanism would probably differ.
It is based on a belief that the bulbs, or most of them, break dormancy according to a time clock.
A strong case could be made for it being related to summer temperature and length of hot
weather. Personally I incline to a time clock basis. It is also based on a belief that it does not
apply, or only sometimes applies, to bulbs in cultivation because a horticultural environment has
different constraints. I believe that the bulb begins its preparations for emerging from the soil
unaffected by the climatic and environmental factors current at the time, which is why I tend to
the time clock hypothesis. I believe that the shoot developes to a height where it becomes
influenced by the external factors. If those are inimicable I believe the development ceases but
is not aborted but remains in stasis. This point would vary from species to species and to the
strength of the external factors. I believe that this state continues until those factors offer the
appropriate trigger. This trigger may be water ( rain, mist, surface wash, etc ). Dr Du Plessis
advances the theory of atmospheric pressure but, of course, atmospheric pressure and the
actual occurrence of rain are often interrelated. On receipt of the trigger the final shoot
development takes place and it bursts through the soil surface.
I have watched this phenomenon in specimens of Gethyllis and I am strongly reminded that you
may travel through Bushman Land seeing no vestige of bulbous activity ; then a storm breaks
and within a day or two the veld is covered in emerging bulbous plants such as Lachenalia
species. I am told that the same phenomenon is common in the southern United States as well
as Central America. The same hypothesis makes a lot of sense of the fire trigger. There must, I
presume, be a limit to the period in stasis before the bulb aborts but I think that it is more likely
that abortion occurs if the external factors deteriorate to an extent that the shoot has risen too
close to the soil surface, i.e. that the state of stasis is now too high.
BULB CHAT                             OCTOBER 2003                                No. 37

This heading has appeared in the last few Bulb Chats. Well, the symposium has now come
and gone. I am not going to give you a complete rundown of everything that happened at the
symposium, but would like to share some impressions with you.
The symposium started off on the wettest weekend of 2003. The Cape of Storms lived up to its
name. We had 2 full days of talks and discussions about subjects ranging from the upkeep of
a large collection of bulbous plants to the growing of Crinums and everything in between. We
now know everything about Amaryllidaceae, Gethyllis, Oxalis and many other plants. Most of
the talks were magnificently illustrated with slides of high quality. The display of potted plants
drew the attention of all the delegates. Delegates were discussing Babianas, Lachenalias,
Romuleas, Gladioli and many more. As usual the Gethyllis display attracted the attention of
everybody. Many of our overseas delegates had never seen these plants and could not stop
talking about the interesting leaf shapes and forms of the Gethyllis.
During the next three days there were trips to Swellendam, Hermanus and Worcester. These
outings were tremendously enjoyed because it gave delegates the opportunity to mix and talk
to other delegates, most of whom they had never seen or even heard of before the
symposium. To me the lasting impression of this Symposium is the friendships that were
made. Some of us had corresponded with each other for many years and had never been able
to sit down and discuss our big love – bulbous and cormous plants. The symposium enabled
us to do and live out what IBSA is all about – The sharing of information and knowledge. After
the symposium the IBSA family is sure to be closer knit than before. That is the impression I
want all delegates to have. We all belong to one huge family and the only way to keep the
family together is to have occasions like these . Roll on the next symposium!
During the two weeks that followed the symposium many of the foreign delegates visited some
of us to see our collections. We had hours of fun talking to them and showing them these
collections. These foreign delegates are our connection with the rest of the world and I hope
that we will soon see them back in South Africa, hopefully with more of their friends.

Gladiolus bullatus is one of the most difficult species of Gladiolus to grow successfully in pots.
Rossouw Malherbe, a quiet and soft-spoken member who lives near Paarl, has flowered a
Gladiolus bullatus this year that he has grown from seed. We congratulate him on this
fantastic achievement. Over the last 10 – 15 years we have sporadically heard of one or two
growers who have managed to flower Gladiolus bullatus. We could never really check these
reports and never saw a photo of a flowering Gladiolus bullatus in a pot. This latest reported
flowering Gladiolus bullatus was actually seen by a few IBSA members and there is no
doubting this report. We take our hats off to you, Rossouw. Well done.!!!
We are waiting on Rossouw to let us know all his trade secrets.

We have recently had some enquiries about this plant. The rootstock of Bulbine torta is
tuberous. The plants have several wiry leaves that are normally tightly coiled in nature, but
more loosely coiled in cultivation. The yellow or light-orange flowers have reflexed tepals and
the stamens appear to be woolly. Bulbine torta flowers from August to October. It is found on
sandstone outcrops from Namaqualand to the Olifants River Valley and the Cedarberg
mountains. IBSA members have also seen it south of Middelpos along the road to Agterkop.
Early in October about a dozen plants were seen in flower at the foot of a south facing ridge
between the Wolfberg Cracks and the Archway in the Cedarberg.
Some of our members are interested in developing hybrids as usable cultivars. It seems that
there may be a way of producing truly lovely cultivars particularly of the genus Romulea and
possibly other genera including those Moraeas that were previously known as Homerias. Most
of you have probably read Mike Dash‟s splendid book Tulipomania. In it he relates the
emergence in the late 18th century of Tulips of quite astounding variety and beauty. Tulips that
have not, I believe, ever been reproduced. The basic method, though not understood by the
contemporary growers, was by „ breaking „ an indigenous form and grafting or hybridizing it
with an existing cultivar or hybrid. This was only discovered about 150 years later by the John
Innes Institute and depended on contamination by the Mosaic Virus. It seems that the
essential factors are an indigenous species that frequently displays a variety of colour forms
and an easily hybridized species. Also, of course, access to Mosaic Virus. There are several
Romulea that qualify for the first factor, notably R unifolia, R obscura and R flava. There are
several which hybridize frequently in the wild, notably Romulea komsbergensis and R
diversiformis. I suspect that others can be found in the common complexes like R tortuosa and
R rosea. I also remember that erstwhile Homeria vallisbelli normally described as pale yellow
but sometimes produces flowers with most striking and attractive bright darkish green wagon
wheel markings. It might even be a source of the Mosaic Virus. Just a suggestion.

Johan Loubser, our Moraea expert, sent in the following:
The problem was that so few of my seeds resulted in flowering plants. I found that the main
cause of the problem was that rain splashed the seeds out of the pots.
Eventually the solution was very simple. I took gauze, attached it to a frame and put it over the
pots with seed. The gauze is available from hardware shops and the frame can be made from
wood to a size to suit requirements. The gauze breaks both the size and the speed of the
raindrops. I had spectacular success with several species, but I‟ll give one example:
Hesperantha pauciflora. I got seed from Kirstenbosch two years ago, which resulted in two
flowering plants. They produced plenty of seed that was sown under the protection of a gauze
shield. I counted 60 seedlings. In fact, I have more seedlings of the seed protected by the
gauze than I can cope with.
I also use the gauze to cover the holes in the bottom of the pots. A layer of coarse sand over it
gives perfect drainage.

This extremely rare species is listed in the Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs. Unfortunately
no photo accompanies the text. Well, the reason for the lack of a photograph is the fact that
the authors of that magnificent book had not seen this Babiana until very recently. The text in
the Encyclopedia states that it is a yellow flowering Babiana, with a zygomorphic flower and a
longish ( 8 – 10 mm ) tube. The 6 to 7 leaves are similar in shape as the leaves of Babiana
thunbergii, linear, plicate with 2 – 3 prominent veins. The leaves are dark green and not grey
coloured as the leaves of Babiana thunbergii usually is. There are 4 – 8 bilabiate flowers on a
spike and the flowers face the apex of the stem.
The text also states that it grows on the lower mountain slopes of the Nardouw Mountains.
Joyce Lewis wrote in the Babiana handbook that these plants were only occasionally found,
and then on the mountain slopes above the Olifants River. This is where the problem has
started. According to Dr Peter Goldblatt he has searched for this plant along the base of the
mountain and up the mountainside along the pass that goes up there. All to no avail.
During early August 2002, two IBSA members collected specimens of a Babiana in leaf ON
TOP of the Nardouws Mountain. These Babianas flowered during September 2003, and Drs
Goldblatt and Manning positively identified them as Babiana unguiculata. According to the
records the last people to see and collect these plants were Stokoe, who made the Type
collection, and Louis Leipoldt ( a Medical Man, a Poet/Writer and Naturalist and collector of
plants in the Clanwilliam area.) On 17th of September2003 two of us went to the farm where
the plants were collected in 2002. We found quite a few specimens in flower , and also many
that were still coming into flower. A herbarium specimen was collected and labeled as IBSA
No 1. We are now officially handing in herbarium specimens to the Compton Herbarium under
IBSA‟s name. Babiana unguiculata was growing in close association with another rare
endemic of that area, namely Haemanthus nortieri. Other bulbous plants seen growing in the
same area included Gladiolus alatus, Gladiolus scullyi, Lachenalia mutabilis, Moraea
macrocarpa, Ferraria ferrariola, another Ferraria species as well as a few Lapeirousias, not yet
in flower ( ? L fabricii ). There was also another Babiana species that had not come into flower

All three these species of Lachenalia were on show at the September meeting. Identification is
always a problem because they all have white flowers with a bit of maroon in. The stamens of
all three these species are normally included or just protruding beyond the tip of the perianth.
Pedicels of these species vary from being nearly totally absent to slightly longer than 2 mm.
The following is my attempt at a key to separate these three species.
1 Leaves – one or usually two . Flowers at 45 degree angle to peduncle           L. liliflora
1‟ Leaves – three or more
 2       Leaves – grass-like, 6 to 10, channeled above, plain or with green or brown spots on
         upper surface. Flowers oblong campanulate, facing slightly upwards . Stamens
         included.                                                               L. orthopetala
 2‟      Leaves – grass-like, 4 to 7, semi-terete or slightly channeled above, green or maroon
 and can be erect or lie horizontally. Flowers campanulate to widely campanulate. Stamens
 included usually, but can be exserted.                                          L. contaminata

 As you can see Lachenalia liliflora is relatively easy to differentiate from the other two
 species. It usually has two lanceolate leaves, which are plain green and could be pustulate
 on the upper surface. The flowers are oblong campanulate. The outer perianth segments are
 white with a brownish gibbosity. The slightly longer inner segments are white with dark
 magenta tips. The pedicels are about 2mm long and the flowers face upwards.
 Lachenalia orthopetala has up to 10 grass-like leaves. The leaves are channeled above and
 about 2 – 5 mm wide at the base. The oblong-campanulate flowers are white. The outer
 perianth segments each have a maroon gibbosity. The slightly longer inner segments have
 dark maroon markings at their tips.
 Lachenalia contaminata is the smallest of the three species. It has 4 – 7 grass-like leaves.
 The leaves are semi-terete and slightly channeled above ( much less so than the leaves of
 L. orthopetala ). Leaf colour varies between green and more often maroon. The dense
 inflorescence consists of white, campanulate to widely campanulate flowers. The outer
 perianth segments are white with a dark maroon or brown gibbosity. The inner perianth
 segments are slightly longer than the outer segments and have a dark maroon central stripe
 near the tips. As already mentioned, the stamens are usually included, but in some
 populations they are exserted.
 I hope that this information will help in the identification of these three species of Lachenalia
 that are often flowering in our pots at the same time during September and October.
 To make matters worse Lachenalia zeyheri and even Lachenalia bachmannii could be added
 to this group of Lachenalias that are so similar. I have left them out of the equation because
 they were not represented at the September meeting.
At this meeting Dr John Manning gave us a talk on record keeping in collections. He stressed
that meticulously kept records are helpful to Botanical science and that unfortunately the most
impressive potted specimen with poor or no record attached to it is of very little value. I would
like to quote from a textbook on Haworthias by Bruce Bayer : “ Several overseas collectors
built up good collections from which relatively little useful information has ever flowed. This,
together with the failure of local collections to provide any permanent and reliable record,
should be a clear indictment of collecting per se as a corollary of preservation and scientific
record. A specimen without a locality record is a liability in taxonomy “. It is our duty to make
sure that nobody can ever point fingers at us. Please keep records as meticulously as possible
because your collection is sure to outlive you.
At this meeting there were some exceptional specimens on display. Despite the poor rainfall
that the Cape has had this year some members always succeed in showing high-class
specimens. Many Lachenalia species were shown, including L. pustulata. unicolor, L. liliflora L.
contaminata, L. orthopetala and L. mathewsii. The „ Best on Show „ for the September monthly
meeting has to be the pot with a single Moraea gigandra in perfect condition. These plants are
extremely rare in their natural habitat, which has been destroyed by wheat fields. They
are/were found on clay soils between Piketberg and Porterville. The flowers are blue with
darker blue nectar guides on the three large, outer tepals.

Andries de Villiers feels that as the editor when Bulb Chat was featuring the controversy over
Moraea aristata tepal colour he would like to record the following : A few years ago he stopped
growing corms in pots and transferred them into the garden, haphazardly because he wanted
it to be over-full with a wide variety of colours and forms. This year two stems of Moraea
aristata flowered with immaculate white tepals. Andries states that he has never been fond of
Moraeas and that he has never had pots of Moraeas, nor can he remember ever growing
Moraea aristata. If he had at any stage possibly grown Moraea aristata they most definitely
never flowered. The soil in the garden is the natural sand of the Cape Flats with a thin overlay
of local composted soil. While these two specimens probably originated from the pot line, the
fact that Edgemead is part of what was once the floral inheritance of the Cape Peninsula,
there is just the faintest chance that the two specimens are long dormant local residues, like
the strong community of Gladiolus carinatus under the adjacent power lines.

SABONET is a magazine published by the NBI and distributed to all herbaria and botanical
institutions world wide as well as to individuals on a subscription basis. In the March 2003
issue of SABONET the Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs ( a catch-penny title insisted upon
by the Publisher ) was reviewed by some minor local botanical luminary who skillfully avoided
any mention of a bulbous family, genus or species and who described it as a „ Fynbos book „
which it is not and has never claimed to be. The reviewer has perhaps noticed that the word
„ Fynbos „ frequently occurs in environmental studies of the Cape and has dragged it in in
order to provide a spurious suggestion that he has read more than just the title of the book. He
advanced the utterly irrelevant statement that there are 24000 plant taxa in Southern Africa, a
statement that could have no possible bearing on the substance of the book. He boasted that
he reacted to the book with a yawn and a snore, a piece of collegial rudeness founded
probably in professional jealousy. He is not, nor is ever likely to be, a Krukoff Curator like one
of the co-authors or even a Herbert Medallist like another. He failed to recognise the
considerable research that went into this, the first comprehensive study of the subject in more
than a hundred years. He lacked the intellectual honesty to decline to review a book for which
he was manifestly unsuited. The critique was a shoddy piece of impertinence.

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