Albuca is an African genus of more than 100 species belonging to the Hyacinthaceae family and includes some species more recently included in Ornithogalum. All Albuca species grow from bulbs, and most have a dormancy period after flowering whereby they lose their leaves. The flower scape is unbranched. The flowers are white and yellow and are embellished with a green to brown stripe down the middle of each outer tepal. Species R-Z are found on this wiki page.
Albuca secunda (syn. Ornithogalum secundum) is found on stony slopes and flats in Namaqualand and the western Cape. It grows to 35 cm and has many oblong strap shaped leaves with minutely fringed margins arranged in a rosette and lying flat on the ground. Leaves are usually dry at flowering. The erect, many-flowered inflorescene is borne on a firm stem. Flowers are yellow with a broad green midrib with oblong spreading to recurved petals. The second photo is from Rod Saunders. The last three photos were taken in habitat by Andrew Harvie northwest of Steinkopf in Namaqualand.
Albuca seineri (syn. Ornithogalum seineri) is native to southern Africa. It is from a summer rainfall area. The photos below were taken by Cody Howard of plants growing in Gobabis, Namibia.
Albuca setosa in the broad sense is found from Namaqualand, the southwestern Cape through the Karoo, Eastern Cape to Swaziland, on rocky ground, flats, mountain slopes. Plants grow from 15-50 cm. Leaves are broad at the base, dark green. The leaves are only slightly fleshy and often dry up in dry weather - sometimes while the plants are flowering. This species has erect flowers on long pedicels, white or yellow with broad green to brownish central stripes with the inner tepals sometimes tipped yellow. There are a lot of tough fibres at the top of the bulb (also described as coarse brown hairs around the base of the plant at ground level.) This species blooms from August to January in habitat. Photo 1 below was taken by Paul Tyerman. Photos 2-5 below from Cameron McMaster and Mary Sue Ittner show this species growing in very dry areas of the Eastern Cape blooming in summer. Photos 2-3 show it blooming in January near Cradock and the last two pictures show the leaves and the remains of the seedpods. Photo 6 was taken by Cameron McMaster near Nieuwoudtville September 2012.
Albuca shawii (syn. Albuca trichophylla) is native from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo Province, South Africa. It can be found from 150-2400 m on cliffs and rocky grasslands. The leaves are narrow and covered with short sticky hairs, reputedly smelling of aniseed when crushed! Flowers are few, approximately 15 mm, yellow (with green stripes), nodding and scented. Blooming time is September to February in habitat. The species is summer growing, and winter dormant. It is one of the more commonly grown species because of the profusion of flowers it produces. This is a worthy species for a nice container garden. It is named for the Scottish botanist John Shaw (1837-1890). Photos 1-2 were taken by Paul Tyerman, 3-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, and photo 6 of the seeds was taken by David Pilling.
Photographs by David Pilling; the hairs are a distinctive feature and are present on leaves and stems; the stem in photo 1 is 2-3 mm wide, which makes the hairs a fraction of a millimeter long; to the eye they look more like a white fuzz; photo 2 is more representative of their appearance. Photo 2 shows all of the buds at a stem top; from the spacing of the flowers in other photos it is apparent that the stem elongates as the flowers open. Gently rubbing the stems between your fingers will release the scent. In photos 4-6 the typical situation for this genus of alternate anthers being different can be seen.
Photo 1 is of a seed pod; photo 2 shows seed pods point up, flowers down. Photo 3 displays the leaf C cross section; cutting one will cause a drop of liquid to form immediately. Photo 4 has views of the back and the front of a leaf - the inside of the C with no hairs faces the stem (bottom in the photo). Photo 5 shows the seeds in a ripe seed pod. Photo 6 is of bulbs on a 10 mm grid, the bulb on the right is upside down.
Albuca spiralis was described from the Western Cape Province but also occurs in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. The flowers are green with pale yellow margins, nodding, sweetly scented, reportedly of butter and vanilla! The smell can be quite strong on a warm sunny day. Leaves are narrow, wavy like a snake to spirally twisted with glandular hairs. The degree of spiral depends on the clone and the amount of sunlight the plant receives when the leaves started growing. The peduncle also has glandular hairs at the base. Flowering late winter to mid-spring. Plants are winter-growing and summer-dormant.
Photos 1-6 were taken by Nhu Nguyen showing various leaf morphologies from seed-raised plants.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 6 shows three-month-old seedlings (seeds from 2007 PBS Seed Sale) grown by Nhu Nguyen. The crop of adults could be seen in photo 3 taken in 2013. It took about 4 years for this species to mature from seeds.
Albuca sp. 'Augrabies Hills' (ex. Arid Lands?) is a commonly sold plant. Its place of origin and species have been the subject of a PBS list discussion highlights of which can be seen below.
Until we have formal confirmation of where the seed was collected or dna confirmation of what it is, we are retaining it as an unknown species on the wiki.
It is one of the most commonly cultivated species of the genus. It can be found in many cactus and succulent nurseries. The plant has leaves that are thin (~1mm thick), glabrous, somewhat fleshy in texture, narrowly channeled where it looks almost terete. The inflorescence is about 8 inches (or 20 cm) tall with a glaucous peduncle. Each inflorescence holds 3-4(5) flowers. The flowers are similar to a few other species, except that the bulbs of this species are raised above ground and the flowers bloom when leaves are present. This is a tough species that can take various treatments from very warm temperatures to very dry conditions for extended period of time. It probably cannot stand a deep freeze because of the exposed bulbs. Pamela Slate grows her plants in Arizona under 50% shade cloth. Nhu Nguyen grows his plant under full sun in the Bay Area. It receives water year round and blooms at least twice a year. It pups prolifically and within a few years a few bulbs can multiply to the size of Pam's specimen seen below. It likes a well drained but rich organic mix (1:1 organic:inorganic works well). Give it a little bit of fertilizer during active growth. Photos 1-4 were taken by Pamela Slate of a plant in a 12 inch pot.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen.
Albuca sp. Gaika's Kop the photos were taken in January 2010 by Mary Sue Ittner, in Gaika's Kop, Eastern Cape. It could be Albuca nelsonii, a robust evergreen species found on grassland and rocky slopes in southern Africa.
Albuca suaveolens (syn. Ornithogalum suaveolens) is found on dry slopes and flats in a wide area including Namibia, Namaqualand and the Cape Province. It grows to 50 cm and has narrow leaves that clasp at the base and are sometimes dry at flowering. Flowers are in a stiff erect raceme, yellow, spreading or nodding, with dark green keels. Photos 1-5 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photos 1-2 were taken in Namaqualand and photos 3-5 were taken near Nieuwoudtville. There is some indication that photos 1-2 could be the species Albuca semipedalis. Photo 6 is a close-up of a flower in cultivation taken by Alan Horstmann.
Albuca tortuosa Baker (1897) is similar to Albuca aurea, except that it comes from the Eastern Cape Province. The leaves are tough and contorts a few times along the length. The photos below by Nhu Nguyen were taken at the UC Botanical Garden of plants collected in the Eastern Cape Province. It was originally identify as Albuca setosa.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 6 shows the mosaic virus symptoms of this species. Unfortunately because of the virus, the plant had been destroyed after setting seeds. The pods were set by microwaving the pollen for 15 seconds, mixing with fresh pollen and applied twice a day for several days.
Albuca unifolia is native from Namibia to the Orange Free State of South Africa. The photo below as taken by John Grimshaw from Kamieskroon, Northern Cape, flowering at Colesbourne.
Albuca virens (syn. Ornithogalum tenuifolium) is a grassland plant found in the Eastern Cape of South Africa to tropical Africa. Leaves vary on this species from many to few, linear to filiform. Flowers are suberect, whitish with green keels. Albuca virens ssp. arida (formerly Ornithogalum tenuifolium ssp. aridum) grows in stony soil in dry grassland in southern Namibia and the Northern Cape and has filiform leaves with the old bases forming a neck. Two more subspecies were named in 2009, A. virens ssp. robusta and A. virens spp. sordida. The photos below were taken by Monica Swartz and were on the Mystery Bulbs page for some time and identified as this species by Christopher Whitehouse, who wrote that it was "a very variable species across the whole of East Africa (originally divided into three subspecies but then sunk as there was no correlation between the forms and geography." This explains why the one subspecies was retained as it is located in a different area and is a different form.