Scadoxus multiflorus
Tue, 22 Nov 2005 10:14:40 PST
I have long been curious about the variation in Scadoxus multiflorus, but
was never quite sure what constituted subsp. katherinae. Prompted by the
recent correspondence, I looked up the species in Flora of Tropical East
Africa: Amaryllidaceae, by Inger Nordal (of the University of Oslo: she
knows the tropical African amaryllid flora better than anyone, I think). She
adds a note to the formal description, which reads:

"S. multiflorus subsp. multiflorus is widespread and heterogeneous,
occupying a wide range of habitats. Lack of discontinuity prevents further
delimitation. Only in the lowland rainforests of Sierra Leone to Ghana and
in the coastal areas from Swaziland to the East[ern] Cape is differentiation
sharp enough to justify the separation of subsp. longitubus (C.H. Wright)
Friis & Nordal and subsp. katherinae (Bak.) Friis & Nordal respectively. In
East Africa the typical savanna form is slender with flowers before the
leaves, the mountain form more robust with leaves and flowers contemporary.
Intervening habitats have intermediate forms, and the differences disappear
in cultivation."

To my mind, that is a model of communication of scientific information:
brief and to the point.

Seeing the great globes of S. multiflorus (not particularly 'slender')
emerging from dusty dry soil in the Serengeti remains one of the oddest of
my botanical memories; they seem much more at home in the lush forest
understorey of the East African mountains. It was abundant in the forest
around my former home on Kilimanjaro, and the bulbs I grow now accompanied
me home from there. They readily adopted a summer-growing regime in the UK,
and flower reliably.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP


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