Androcymbium

Androcymbium is a genus in the Colchicaceae family found in Africa and the Mediterranean. The common names for species in the genus are cup-and-saucer and men-in-a-boat. There are about 40 species and 13 of them are in the Cape Floral province. Species in this genus have few erect flowers on short pedicels and are usually in a head overtopped by green or petaloid bracts. Recent taxonomic changes by Manning, Forest & Vinnersten (2007) suggest that Androcymbium be included in Colchicum. However, inclusion of Androcymbium into the already large genus Colchicum is made for "practical" reasons. The author state that there were no morphological characters that separated certain groups of Androcymbium found by molecular evidence. We await a full revision of the genus Androcymbium and until such a revision occurs, we will keep the genus Androcymbium separated from Colchicum based on their morphological classification.


Androcymbium austrocapense U.Müll.-Doblies & D.Müll.-Doblies (syn. Colchicum austrocapense) means from the Southern Cape. It is native to South Africa. Photo by Gottfried Milkuhn.

Androcymbium austrocapense, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium burchellii Baker (syn. Colchicum coloratum subsp. burchellii (Baker) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is found on stony clay flats in the western Karoo, Bokkeveld Mountains to the Little Karoo. It is a prostrate plant with ovate white to green bracts that flowers July to September. The first one was photographed on the road to Middlepos August 2001 by Mary Sue Ittner and the next two in the Roggeveld September 2006 by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The last photo was taken by Alan Horstmann.

Androcymbium burchellii, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium burchellii, Bob RutemoellerAndrocymbium burchellii, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium burchellii, Alan Horstmann

These photos by Mary Sue Ittner show plants grown from seed and blooming in Northern California for the first time in December 2003. There are three views, one of the plants in a pot, one looking down on the flowers, and the third a close-up showing the bracts and the stamens. It most closely resembles Androcymbium latifolium in the key in The Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs but Julian Slade thinks it may be a hybrid with it and another species. Since that species is now included in Androcymbium burchellii which looks similar except for the color of the bracts, perhaps this is the logical place to add it. A final photo taken when dormant shows the corms. This plant has not liked the wet humid coastal Northern California winters.

Androcymbium sp., Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium sp. top, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium sp. side, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium corms, Mary Sue Ittner

Androcymbium capense (L.) Druce (syn. Colchicum capense ssp. capense (L.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is a stemless plant found on clay or loam flats from Namaqualand to the western Karoo and Swellendam, South Africa. Flowers are enclosed in large white bracts, sometimes striped green. Photo 1 was taken by Rod Saunders and photo 2 was taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of a plant in cultivation.

Androcymbium capense, Rod SaundersAndrocymbium capense, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium ciliolatum Schltr. & Krause (syn. Colchicum capense subsp. ciliolatum (Schltr. & K. Krause) J.C. Manning & Vinn.) is found throughout Namaqualand in sandy, often moist places, southwards to Piketberg. The 2 lanceolate basal leaves, up to 15 cm. long, have a minutely fringed margin and are at ground level. The clusters of many white flowers is surrounded by pale green, almost white bracts. Photos 1-2 were taken by Bill Dijk and photos 3-6 were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn.

Androcymbium ciliolatum, Bill DijkAndrocymbium ciliolatum, Bill DijkAndrocymbium ciliolatum, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium ciliolatum, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium ciliolatum, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium ciliolatum, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium dregei Presl (syn. Colchicum dregei (C. Presl) J.C. Manning & Vinn.) is found on sheltered rock outcrops from Namaqualand to the Karoo. It flowers in winter. Photo by Alessandro Marinello

Androcymbium dregei, Alessandro Marinello

Androcymbium eucomoides (Jacq.) Willd (syn. Colchicum eucomoides (Jacq.) J.C.Manning & Vinn) is native to native to the Western Cape of South Africa. The photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of plants in cultivation.

Androcymbium eucomoides, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium eucomoides, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium europaeum (Lange) K.Richt. (syn. Colchicum europaeum (Lange) J.C.Manning & Vinn) is native to southeastern Spain to northwestern Morocco. The photo below was taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of a plant in cultivation.

Androcymbium_europaeum1GM, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium irroratum is native to the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of plants in cultivation.

Androcymbium irroratum, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium irroratum, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium irroratum, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium irroratum, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium latifolium Schinz is now included by many in Androcymbium burchellii, but this is complicated by whether or not to name it Colchicum. The synonyms are Androcymbium pulchrum Schltr. & K. Krause, Androcymbium burchellii subsp. pulchrum (Schltr. & K. Krause) Pedrola, Membrives, J.M.Monts. & Caujapé, and Colchicum coloratum subsp. coloratum J.C. Manning & Vinn. It has 2 lance shaped leaves and flowers enclosed in large reddish bracts. The first photograph below was taken by Mary Sue Ittner August 2001 in the Nieuwoudtville Reserve where it was growing in heavy red doleritic clay and the second and third photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller near Middelpos in the Roggeveld September 2006. The third photo shows this species blooming with Romulea subfistulosa. The last photo was taken by Alan Horstmann.

Androcymbium latifolium, Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium latifolium, Middelpos, Bob RutemoellerAndrocymbium latifolium with Romulea subfistulosa, Middelpos, Bob RutemoellerAndrocymbium latifolium, Alan Horstmann

Androcymbium longipes Baker (syn. Colchicum longipes (Baker) J.C. Manning & Vinn.) is found in moist slopes and stony grasslands from the Karoo to the Eastern Cape. It has lanceolate channeled leaves and flowers clustered between leaf-like bracts. Photos taken by Bob Rutemoeller, Mary Sue Ittner and Cameron McMaster at Naude's Nek and Tiffendell in the Drakensberg Mountains in the Eastern Cape.

Androcymbium longipes, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerAndrocymbium longipes, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium longipes, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium longipes, Tiffendell, Cameron McMasterAndrocymbium longipes, Tiffendell, Cameron McMaster

The photos by Gottfried Milkuhn show the species in cultivation.

Androcymbium longipes, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium longipes, corms, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium palaestinum Baker (syn. Androcymbium palaestinum (Baker) C.Archer) is the only representative of this genus in the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite being small in size, it is a showy plant. Each flower lasts for a few weeks. It grows on white limestone soils in dry, semi desert conditions. Photos taken by Oron Peri in the Jordon Valley.

Androcymbium palaestinum in the Jordan Valley, Oron PeriAndrocymbium palaestinum in the Jordan Valley, Oron PeriAndrocymbium palaestinum in the Jordan Valley, Oron PeriAndrocymbium palaestinum in the Jordan Valley, Oron Peri

The photo below by Gottfried Milkuhn shows a plant in cultivation.

Androcymbium palaestinum, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium spp. Below are a number of unidentified species.

Rogan Roth would love to know what this attractive Androcymbium species is called. These are plants grown from seed ex. Silverhill Seeds and are easy to grow, proliferating rapidly.

Mystery Androcymbium, Rogan Roth

Species seen and photographed in Namaqualand are pictured below. The first two were taken in the Kamiesberg by Andrew Harvie. The last was photographed by Mary Sue Ittner.

Androcymbium sp., Kamiesberg, Andrew HarvieAndrocymbium sp., Kamiesberg, Andrew HarvieAndrocymbium sp., Namaqualand, Mary Sue Ittner

Androcymbium rechingeri Greuter (syn. Colchicum rechingeri (Greuter) J.C.Manning & Vinn) is native to western Kriti to northern Libya. The photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of plants in cultivation.

Androcymbium rechingeri, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium rechingeri, Gottfried MilkuhnAndrocymbium rechingeri, Gottfried Milkuhn

Androcymbium striatum Hochst. ex A.Rich. (syn. Colchicum striatum (Hochst. ex A.Rich.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is found on damp ground among rocks and gravel patches from 1800-3000 meters from the Eastern Cape, South Africa to Tropical Africa. Leaves are slender and keeled and flowerheads hidden within large white petal-like bracts that are striped with green or violet. Photos by Cameron McMaster taken in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Androcymbium striatum, Andriesberg, Cameron McMasterAndrocymbium striatum, Tiffendell, Cameron McMaster

Androcymbium volutare Burch. (syn. Colchicum volutare (Burch.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is found in gravelly clay in karroid scrub from the western Karoo to Little Karoo. It has several narrow leaves that are coiled. Flowers are enclosed in a pair of pale green upright bracts with coiled tips. The first two photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner in Calvinia September 2006. The third photo was taken by Cameron McMaster September 2011 near Middelpos.

Androcymbium volutare, Calvinia, Bob RutemoellerAndrocymbium volutare, Calvinia, Mary Sue IttnerAndrocymbium volutare, Cameron McMaster

Colchicum index - Colchicum A-HColchicum I-RColchicum S-Z - Colchicum HybridsAndrocymbium - Bulbocodium - Merendera


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