Albuca

Albuca is a genus of more than 100 species belonging to the Hyacinthaceae family, occurring mostly in southern Africa. This genus is apparently most closely related to Ornithogalum. APGIII includes this genus in the Asparagaceae family. In the current classification scheme, Albuca has a well-defined green or brownish median longitudinal band on the outer surface of each tepal and a concentration of 3-5 veins along the midline.

In J. Manning, P. Goldblatt & M.F. Fay, "A revised generic synopsis of Hyacinthaceae in sub-Saharan Africa, including new combinations and the new tribe Pseudoprospereae", Edinburgh Journal of Botany 60(3): 533-568 (2004) the authors propose sinking Albuca along with Dipcadi, Galtonia, Neopatersonia, and Pseudogaltonia into Ornithogalum.

In a "A molecular phylogeny and a revised classification of Ornithogaloideae (Hyacinthaceae) based on an analysis of four plastid DNA regions" written by John C. Manning, FĂ©lix Forest, Dion S. Devey, Michael F. Fay & Peter Goldblatt in TAXON 58 (1), February 2009: 1-107, this subject is again addressed. Three clades are identified. Clade A is recognized as the genus Albuca with a well-defined green or brownish median longitudinal band on the outer surface of each tepal and a concentration of 3-5 veins along the midline. Clade B comprises the genera Dipcadi and Pseudogaltonia. Clade C is the genus Ornithogalum and includes Galtonia and Neopatersonia, these genera have uniformly colored tepals with at the most a narrow or indistinct darker band without the veins. This means that species that were previously considered to belong in Ornithogalum are now included in Albuca and vice versa. We will be gradually changing the wiki pages to reflect these changes, but keeping the synonyms as plants will still be found in books and in the trade under their previous names.

All Albuca species grow from bulbs, and most have a dormancy period after flowering whereby they lose their leaves (although in cultivation, some species do not loose their leaves during dormancy). The flower scape is unbranched, like almost all Hyacinthaceae. Most species only produce one scape per growing season, although some, such as Albuca flaccida and Albuca maxima, may produce two or more; the tropical African species may produce scape after scape after scape in optimal conditions. The majority of species are winter-growers, mainly originating from the south-west Cape and northwards into Namaqualand, South Africa. The genus also extends into tropical Africa and Arabia, where there are comparatively fewer species.

There are two types of flowers in the genus, the upward facing variety and the nodding or pendent variety. The tropical African species, on the other hand, have flowers on such short pedicels that the only position they can hold is sideways. The flowers colors range from white and yellow through to green, but are usually embellished with a green stripe down the middle of each outer tepal. In some species, all the tepals open broadly and in others, the outer tepals will more or less open, while the inner ones remain closed, latched together at the tips by an intricate system of hairs and hooks. In some species, the tips of the inner tepals are sometimes colored differently, either with white or bright yellow. Although there is not a great diversity in the shape of the flowers, there is however a fascinating range of leaf forms. Some species do admittedly have rather uninteresting foliage, others have such unusual leaves that they could be grown as a foliage plant in their own right. Leaves can be boat-shaped, coiled into corkscrew shapes, or narrow and wavy like a slithering snake. Some of the above information and information about the species was furnished by Julian Slade in his Introduction to the Pacific Bulb Society topic of the week on Albuca in July 2003.

Albuca can be forgiving and seems to be tougher than other desert South African plants. All species want a well-drained mix and most should be grown in full sun. There are some exceptions and the habitat of those species should be studied for successful cultivation. Many South African and especially tropical African species are not frost hardy and can be severely damaged by a light frost. They should be protected if frost is expected. Two clones are often necessary to produce seeds but exceptions such as Albuca spiralis do exist. In the event that only a single clone exists, seeds can be made by microwaving the pollen for 15-20 seconds, then mixing with fresh pollen and applied twice a day to the pistil for several days. Because most species rarely produce offsets, growing from seed is the best way to increase stocks, and is usually the only way to obtain most species. All species, however, are easily raised from seed, sown at about the same time adult plants come into active growth. Fresh seed often germinate within a week of sowing, often with 100% germination. The seed is short lived however and probably needs to be started within six months for good germination. Seedlings usually flower in their third year.


For photos and information of species select the appropriate wiki page:

or click on the name in the table below:

Albuca
Albuca abyssinica, Monica Swartz [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
abyssinica
Albuca acuminata, Paul Tyerman [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
acuminata
Albuca albucoides, Spring Valley, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
albucoides
Image not available [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
aurea
Albuca bracteata, Andrew Harvie [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
bracteata
Albuca bruce-bayberi, Susan Hayek [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
bruce-bayeri
Albuca canadensis, Namaqualand, Bob Rutemoeller [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Albuca canadensis
Albuca clanwilliamae-gloria, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
clanwilliamae-gloria
Albuca concordiana, Calvinia, Mary Sue Ittner [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
concordiana
Albuca cooperi, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMaster [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
cooperi
Albuca crispa in Karoo-Namib habitat, Bob Rutemoeller [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
crispa
Image not available [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
deaconii
Albuca dilucula, Namaqualand, Andrew Harvie [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
dilucula
Albuca fastigata, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMaster [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
fastigata
Albuca flaccida, Paul Tyerman [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
flaccida
Albuca foetida, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
foetida
Image not available [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
hallii
Albuca humilis, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue Ittner [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
humilis
Image not available [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
juncifolia
Albuca longipes, Namaqualand, Andrew Harvie [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
longipes
Albuca massonii, Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve, Andrew Harvie [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
massonii
Albuca namaquensis, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
namaquensis
Albuca navicula flower, Dylan Hannon [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
navicula
Albuca nelsonii, Kei Mouth, Andrew Harvie [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
nelsonii
Albuca osmynella, Monica Swartz [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
osmynella
Albuca pendula, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
pendula
Albuca polyphylla, Willowmore, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
polyphylla
Albuca pulchra, Rod Saunders [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
pulchra
Albuca secunda, Namaqualand, Andrew Harvie [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
secunda
Albuca seineri, Gobabis, Namibia, Cody Howard [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
seineri
Albuca setosa, Cradock, Mary Sue Ittner [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
setosa
Albuca shawii, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Albuca shawii
Albuca 'Augrabies Hills', Pamela Slate [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
sp. 'Augrabies Hills'
Albuca spiralis, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
Albuca spiralis
Albuca suaveolens, Alan Horstmann [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
suaveolens
Albuca tortuosa, Nhu Nguyen [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
tortuosa
Albuca virens, Somerset East, Cameron McMaster [Shift+click to enlarge, Click to go to wiki entry]
virens
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Page last modified on December 29, 2013, at 09:40 AM