Gladiolus on the wiki

Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 06 Mar 2004 11:15:23 PST
Dear All,

I assume that a lot of people from our list are attending the winter study 
meeting of NARGS in Eugene Oregon this weekend. I hope they will report 
when they return. Here in northern California it is a gorgeous day and 
there are all kinds of bulbs in bloom.

I'd like to report on some recent additions to the wiki. I'll start with 
some South African Gladiolus in bloom at the moment. There are a number of 
early blooming varieties that don't fare very well in my climate. The rain 
and wind bat them around and they are often lying instead of standing as a 
result. When I shelter them, they may not get enough light and still look 
like they need support. I can't remember if they seemed like this in the 
wild. Perhaps they are supported by low bushes. I know a lot of the species 
from the wetter parts of South Africa's winter rainfall areas bloom later 
and perhaps this is how they cope.

Many are so beautiful that I keep trying and some years am rewarded with 
sunshine at the right times. One that I wouldn't put in the beautiful 
category however is Gladiolus abbreviatus. This seems a very apt name. I 
got seed of this because the drawing in the Manning-Goldblatt book made it 
look floriferous and kind of interesting. In real life my reaction was 
more, "Is this it?" Definitely a collector's item. We saw some in the wild 
on one of the IBSA excursions and we were all excited at every bulb we 
found in the dry year, but I ended up tossing all my slides of it as I 
decided I'd never include it in a slide show. I had a terrible time 
photographing this one as the camera always chose to focus on the 
background, but finally tried a trick Alberto suggested and put clear 
plastic behind it. Bob thought I need to put up a picture looking up at the 
flower so you can see parts of the flower you can see head on so I've added 
pictures of both. This one has a reddish tint, but there are some that are 
brownish. Now have I gotten anyone's attention? It is supposed to be 
pollinated by sunbirds which are gorgeous colorful birds so perhaps that 
would be a reason to grow it if I lived in South Africa. I'll be on the 
look out for hummingbirds.

Definitely more beautiful is the species Gladiolus bullatus. When Rhoda and 
Cameron McMaster took Bob and I, Lauw de Jager, and Patty Colville to 
Boskloof we saw it. It has a reputation for being hard to grow. I've been 
waiting for Cameron to put a picture he took of it up, but he's very busy 
so added one of Bob's from our visit to Boskloof.

Blooming now is a species we also saw in the wild and a very beautiful 
thing, Gladiolus carinatus. My picture is a close-up which makes you think 
it is bigger than it really is. It is not a large flower, but the markings 
are really lovely.

Finally when we were in South Africa on our own having a lunch stop Bob was 
looking for birds with his binoculars and said he thought he had seen a 
blue flower that might be worth getting closer to. We scrambled up this 
hillside until we finally reached the flower. Someone had gotten there 
before us. Can anyone tell me what this insect is that is so enjoying this 

We were very disappointed but continued to climb around until we found at 
least one flower unscathed. I believe it is Gladiolus rogersii. Seeds I've 
tried of that have never germinated, but in the last IBSA Bulletin Rod 
Saunders writes about growing from seed and he says Gladiolus seed is not 
very long lived.

Pictures of those four species can be found on:…

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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