Articles: BULB CHAT January 2003 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 May 2011 23:28



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 library.


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.


Back to Articles

Last Updated on Monday, 05 December 2011 16:30
Copyright 2010. Powered by Skytouch Media