Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 12 Oct 2006 11:25:15 PDT
When we were in South Africa in August and September we saw a number of 
Lapeirousias in bloom. This has been a genus that has caused me great 
frustration. I find it to be so beautiful and have admired it greatly in 
the wild so have tried it a number of times from seed and have not been 
very successful. I usually have a few Lapeirousia corymbosa bloom each 
year, but most of them do not bloom and a lot of them chose to remain below 
ground waiting for another year. I've had L. jacquinii bloom a couple of 
times, but those have been exceptions not the rule. Bill Dijk has shared 
seed with me and I have purchased seed from Silverhill and some of it has 
germinated but not done well in later years. While I was visiting this time 
people spoke of needing warm summers, large pots and to be planted very 
deeply and left undisturbed. Some of these corms are not very big so it is 
not intuitive to replant them in a huge pot. You'd think they'd be lost for 
good. I'll keep working on the ones I still have following the advice I got 
and confess I got a few more seeds from Silverhill on my trip so with a 
couple of species will try again although there is a part of me that thinks 
I'd do better concentrating on plants that are happier in my conditions. 
Many species come from very arid spots so even though my summers are 
completely dry, my  winters are more like "rain forest" conditions.

I have revised and added many pictures to our wiki Lapeirousia page.…
I may have more descriptive text than I need, but was attempting to learn 
as much as I could so I could identify what we saw correctly and since I 
was doing the research just added what I learned to the page in case 
someone else might want to know.

Describing these alphabetically leads me to a challenge when you are trying 
to figure these out. There are a lot of species in Namaqualand and not a 
lot of information about them as they are not included in the Color 
Encyclopedia of Cape bulbs and are all not pictured in the Namaqualand 
field guide. We saw at least three different species in Namaqualand, 
possible four, while we were there. One of them was L. arnicola. It is a 
small plant with small flowers, really very charming.

L. azurea we saw on a trip to the West Coast with Rod and Rachel. I braved 
crawling through the barbed wire fence to photograph it but am not very 
happy with the results, but the one I added was the best of the lot. Within 
a short time on the same day we saw a lot of Babiana angustifolia and when 
I first looked at my pictures found distinguishing the two a little hard 
since they are a similar color, both with darker markings.

L. corymbosa is one I grow and occasionally flower. We didn't see it, but I 
added a wild picture taken near Napier by Cameron McMaster.

In the Bieudouw Valley we saw L. divaricata. This is a white flowered 
species. A number of years ago it appeared that Freesia laxa seed was being 
circulated under the name L. divaricata. The leaves and flowers of the true 
plants are really different. It was late in the day when we saw it in the 
Bieudouw Valley, but they were also growing under cover of sorts at the 
botanical garden in Clanwilliam so a picture from there gives a better idea 
of the leaves.

We saw L. fabricii in Namaqualand both days we botanized and than again on 
the road from Clanwilliam to Citrusdal where it was growing along the road 
by itself and mixed with a lot of Cyanella hyacinthoides which were 
blooming in mass on that road. I'd say that the first time we saw it was 
one of the exciting finds of the day. It is really quite wonderful and is 
one of the seeds I bought. It has a large flower for a Lapeirousia with 
interesting markings on both sides.

Lapeirousia jacquinii is one of the species most often grown. I've had 
blooms two years since I first tried it (1989 maybe?) Most years it doesn't 
appear. We saw some really pretty specimens near Nieuwoudtville and then 
again on our west coast trip late in the day near some Babiana ringens and 
Gladiolus speciosus (one of those in the Gladiolus alatus group.)

Laperiousia micrantha--We didn't see this but I had a picture from Cameron 
from his Overberg CD since it grows near where he lives now so I added it 
to the wiki.

On our trip to Middelpos the first day we saw Lapeirousia montana which is 
a light blue species with more uniform flowers. We saw this in 2001 and I 
wanted it but after several attempts have given up since I've never gotten 
seed to germinate. I've added pictures from Cameron and my husband from the 

L. oreogena is one of those gorgeous species everyone wants. Bill Dijk has 
pictures to tempt you on the wiki. I've gotten seed to germinate but not 
bloom yet. We found one growing in the reserve in Nieuwoudtville, but we 
had to look very hard to find it. I've added a picture of it.

L. plicata is very similar to L. montana in all the descriptions. The 
second Middelpos day we saw what I thought was probably L. montana based on 
my knowledge from the day before but which I decided after researching for 
the wiki was instead L. plicata as the leaves are different on the two. I 
have a couple of John Manning notecards with drawings of the two. The 
picture of L. plicata on the Silverhill web site makes me think I'm right 
on this one. It's perhaps good I didn't know this at the time as I surely 
would have gotten seed of it too as I loved those blue flowers.

L. pyramidalis. I've decided we had to see this species during our IBSA 
field trip so I am renaming my picture. I found a picture from Cameron of 
the bracts/buds which I added so you can tell how it got its name and also 
have added another picture my husband took on a field trip near Swellendam 
during the first IBSA symposium.  I must confess that I have a terrible 
time with L. pyramidalis ssp. regalis. When I saw it in the wild on our 
first trip I confused it with L. silenoides so I added a picture of one we 
saw in 2003 in one of Gordon Summerfields's pots. Since the key in the 
Color Encyclopedia does not include L. silenoides since it is a Namaqualand 
species, I can't figure out what I'm looking for to tell them apart.

Finally there is L. silenoides, the Namaqualand treasure. In this very good 
rainfall year we saw it over and over again in Namaqualand. I don't 
actually think you could see it too often with its bright pink flowers. 
I've added a couple of habitat pictures so you could see it in mass and 
growing in outcrop crevices where it is somewhat protected. It is the very 
same color as Pelargonium incrassatum so from a distance you can't be sure 
which species you were seeing as they both were in good bloom. We had a 
guide one day in Namaqualand, a very delightful friend of Rod and Rachel's, 
Lita Cole, who told us history, about the birds, and led us to some 
wonderful spots to see plants. She said the last patch of pink Lapeirousia 
we saw that day was different but I've looked over and over again at our 
pictures and I can't tell how.

If I've misidentified any of these please let me know. This took me a very 
long time to do so I'd appreciate some private feedback if you found it 
useful to help me know whether I should attempt it with any other genera we 
saw in great numbers on our trip.

Mary Sue

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