Babiana Five

Babiana is a large genus in the family Iridaceae from southern Africa. Species Sp-Z are found on this page.


Babiana species A-H - Babiana species I-P - Babiana species R-Si - Babiana index


Babiana spathacea (L.f.) Ker Gawl. grows in doleritic clay in karroid scrub in the western Karoo and flowers September to October. Flowers are cream or flushed lilac with small red markings and plants grow from 10 to 60 cm high. First photo by Alan Horstmann. Second and third photos by Michael Mace of a plant grown in California, where it blooms in mid-May.

Babiana spathacea, Alan HorstmannBabiana spathacea, Michael MaceBabiana spathacea, Michael Mace

Babiana sp. Photos below are of pictures of Babianas taken in the wild that were not identified to the species level. Any help in identifying them would be appreciated. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The first picture was taken near Tulbagh and the others near Nieuwoudtville.

Babiana sp., Tulbagh, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana sp., Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana sp., Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana sp., Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana sp., Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue Ittner

Babiana stricta (Aiton) Ker Gawl. has purple, blue, white or yellow flowers with stems overtopping the leaves and centrally placed dark anthers. It grows on clay soils in renosterveld from Piketberg to Swellendam and has been used in breeding to create many of the garden hybrids. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner taken August 2006 in Tulbagh. Photo 4 of seed by David Pilling.

Babiana stricta, Bob RutemoellerBabiana stricta, Bob RutemoellerBabiana stricta, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana stricta seed, David Pilling

The photos below are probably hybrids from Babiana stricta. They are descendants of a batch of seed described as mixed species. They have been good garden plants, growing and increasing in the ground or as container plants. One blooms a couple weeks before the other.

Babiana stricta hybrid, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana stricta hybrid, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana stricta hybrid, Mary Sue Ittner

Babiana thunbergii Ker Gawl. was renamed to Babiana hirsuta by Goldblatt and Manning in 2008.


Babiana torta G.J.Lewis grows in crevices in granite outcrops or granitic gravel in Namaqualand. This early blooming (May to June) fragrant species has distinctive lanceolate undulate leaves twisted above the middle with pale blue to mauve or white flowers borne close to ground level. The lower lateral tepals have a pale yellow to white median blotch edged in dark blue. Photos taken in September 2007 in Namaqualand by Mary Sue Ittner of the distinctive leaves and of seedpods.

Babiana torta leaves, Namaqualand, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana torta, Namaqualand, Mary Sue Ittner

Babiana tubiflora (L.f.) Ker Gawl. was more recently considered to be a variety of Babiana tubulosa. Like that species, it is found in the Western Cape in coastal areas, but grows farther north (Lambert's Bay to Stilbaai) in sandy, mainly coastal flats and dunes. It also has white flowers, with or without small pink or red median markings on the lower lateral or all three lower tepals. Besides its different habitat, this species is less robust with smaller flowers and flower parts and the red markings on the lower tepals, if they exist, are small and obscure. This species takes 3 years to flower from seeds and grows happily in a small 4" pot.

The photos below were taken in habitat in the western Cape by Andrew Harvie.

Babiana tubiflora, Andrew HarvieBabiana tubiflora, Andrew HarvieBabiana tubiflora, Andrew Harvie

The photos below were taken by Cameron McMaster of plants in cultivation in South Africa.

Babiana tubiflora, Cameron McMasterBabiana tubiflora, Cameron McMaster

The photos below show the same plants through several years of growth in cultivation. Photos 1-3 were taken by Nhu Nguyen of the plants when they bloomed the first time. Photos 4-5 were taken by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht of the same clumps, several years later in a one gallon pot.

Babiana tubiflora, Nhu NguyenBabiana tubiflora, Nhu NguyenBabiana tubiflora, Nhu NguyenBabiana tubiflora, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtBabiana tubiflora, Jacob Uluwehi Knecht

Babiana tubulosa (Burm.f.) Ker Gawl. has small white to cream flowers flushed deep pink on the outside and an elongate perianth tube that is expanded in the upper portion in a wide gullet. It has prominent triangular to spear-shaped red markings on the lower tepals. It grows in the wild in the Western Cape on the hills between Mamre and Saldanha where it grows on well drained slopes in gritty granite derived soil. The first one pictured below was growing in the wild in the west coast of South Africa and photographed in 2001. We've lost the location, but it looks like it is growing in sand. Photos number two and three are plants grown by Rod and Rachel Saunders. Photos 1-3 by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. Photos 4-5 were taken by Andrew Harvie in the western Cape.

Babiana tubulosa, Bob RutemoellerBabiana tubulosa, Bob RutemoellerBabiana tubulosa, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana tubulosa, Andrew HarvieBabiana tubulosa, Andrew Harvie

The photos below were taken at the UC Botanical Garden by Nhu Nguyen of some very nice plants.

Babiana tubulosa, UC Botanical Garden, Nhu NguyenBabiana tubulosa, UC Botanical Garden, Nhu Nguyen

Babiana truncata G.J.Lewis in the Babiana revision is now considered to be an inaccurate name and is now included under Babiana flabellifolia except for longer tubed collections which are now considered to be in a new species, Babiana cuneata.


Babiana unguiculata G.J.Lewis is found on seeps and seasonally wet sandstone flats in the northwestern Cape. It has linear, sometimes twisted pleated leaves and yellow flowers in a crowded suberect spike. The lower lateral tepals are a darker yellow. The larger dorsal tepal arches over the stamens. Photos taken by Alan Horstmann.

Babiana unguiculata, Alan HorstmannBabiana unguiculata, Alan Horstmann

Babiana vanzijliae L.Bolus grows in rocky sandstone derived soils in fynbos and renosterveld on the Bokkeveld Plateau in the northwestern Cape. This species has often been spelled as Babiana vanzyliae, but it was originally spelled differently and the Babiana revision returns it to the previous spelling. Flowers are yellow to pale blue-mauve with the lower lateral tepals with whitish median blotches. This species grows from 4 to 12 cm tall and blooms August to September. Photo from Dirk Wallace is a close-up.

Babiana vanzijliae, Dirk Wallace

The first photo from Mary Sue Ittner shows this species blooming in mass near Nieuwoudtville August 2001. Also in the picture is Hesperantha pauciflora and an unidentified Spiloxene, possibly Spiloxene serrata. Photos 2-4 were taken by by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller September 2006. Photos 5-6 were taken by Cameron McMaster September 2011.

Babiana vanzijliae, Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana vanzijliae, Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana vanzijliae, Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana vanzijliae, Nieuwoudtville, Bob RutemoellerBabiana vanzijliae, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMasterBabiana vanzijliae, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMaster

Babiana villosa (Aiton) Ker Gawl. grows on clay flats and slopes in the southwest and northwest South Africa Cape. The flowers are mauve, pink, or dark red. The red one is striking plant that is doing well in Mary Sue Ittner's Northern California garden. The first two photos below were taken by Bob Rutemoeller.

Babiana villosa, Bob RutemoellerBabiana villosa, Bob RutemoellerBabiana villosa, Bob Rutemoeller

This red flowered variety grows in the wild near Tulbagh. These pictures were taken August 2006 when it was blooming in mass along with Geissorhiza inflexa which was the exact same color and hard to tell apart from a distance. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller. The first picture is a habitat shot followed by Mary Sue taking a close up and Bob and her close-ups.

Babiana villosa, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana villosa, Bob RutemoellerBabiana villosa, Bob RutemoellerBabiana villosa, Mary Sue Ittner

In the same vicinity near Tulbagh we saw one that was yellow flowered. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller.

Babiana villosa, Mary Sue IttnerBabiana villosa, Bob Rutemoeller

Babiana virginea Goldblatt grows in rock outcrops in the Roggeveld. It is 5 to 15 cm high with hairy pleated lanceolate leaves and white to tinged mauve flowers with pale yellow or cream colored blotches on the lower lateral tepals. The fragrant flowers bloom in September. Photo by Bob Rutemoeller showing one growing in a container shown at an IBSA meeting in South Africa.

Babiana virginea, Bob Rutemoeller

Babiana species A-H - Babiana species I-P - Babiana species R-Si - Babiana index


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Page last modified on January 21, 2016, at 11:13 AM