Babiana is a large genus in the family Iridaceae from southern Africa. Species I-P are found on this page.
Babiana inclinata Goldblatt & J.C.Manning is found on damp clay flats and lower slopes in the western Cape from Porterville to Hopefield. It grows from 15 to 30 mm high with an inclined spike and lanceolate pleated leaves in a loose basal fan. The flowers are in an inverted inclined spike with the larger dorsal tepal horizontal and held somewhat apart from the others. Flowers are blue to violet with the suberect lower tepals often and dorsal tepals sometimes cream-colored. The lower tepals have black or reddish marking in the lower third. Anthers and pollen are purple, lilac, or white. This new species is sometimes confused with Babiana angustifolia which also has inverted flowers, but that species has tepals that are subequal and more cupped and black anthers. Photos taken September 2006 near Clanwilliam in the western Cape of what I think is this species by Mary Sue Ittner.
Babiana leipoldtii grows in seasonally damp sandy flats near Darling. Most of its habitat has been converted to agriculture, so it remains in only a handful of sites, and it is listed as critically endangered, meaning it is at high risk of extinction. Plants are 10 to 18 cm tall with lanceolate, pleated, hairy leaves, usually reaching to the base of the spike. Flowers are actinomorphic and blue-violet, somewhat darker in the center and sometimes with red markings in the lower third of the tepals.
Babiana montana G.J.Lewis is a short plant found on sandstone and limestone slopes. It has mauve flowers with yellow and purple markings and flowers in winter. Photos taken in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster near Napier and at Boskloof.
Babiana mucronata (Jacq.) Ker Gawl. is found on rocky sandstone slopes and flats in the northwest Cape. Plants grow from 5 to 18 cm high. Flowers are pale to dark violet blue arranged in a compact, suberect spike. The lower tepals are white to cream to yellow edged with violet. Photo from Audrey Cain.
Babiana mucronata ssp. minor (G.J.Lewis) Goldblatt & J.C. Manning is a new subspecies. Babiana klaverensis is included in Babiana mucronata in the latest Babiana revision as this subspecies. This taxa is found or rocky slopes and sandstone in the Northern and Western Cape. It has 3 to 6 violet to mauve flowers in a compact spike with tepals joined to each other. It is distinguished from the other subspecies by being dwarf instead of tall and having a shorter perianth tube. The picture below from Alan Horstmann was grown as Babiana klaverensis.
Babiana nana (Andrews) Spreng. as the name implies is a low (6 to 15 cm tall) winter growing species from the Cape where it is usually found on sandy coastal flats and dunes and blooms late winter-early spring. Leaves vary from ovate to narrowly lanceolate to almost linear. It has a nice rose violet fragrance. Flowers are blue or violet, rarely pale pink, with white markings on the lower lateral tepals. The hallmark of this species is that the flowers are disproportionately large compared to the leaves. Photos 1-2 by Alan Horstmann and photos 3-6 by Nhu Nguyen. The form grown by Nhu Nguyen is prone to leaf damage with too much rain. The advantage is that it offsets very strongly.
Babiana nana ssp. maculata (Klatt) Goldblatt & J.C. Manning is a new combination in the latest revision for narrow leaved (5 to 15 mm.) populations called Babiana nana var. angustifolia in the past. This subspecies is found on sandy coastal flats and dunes in the southwest Cape. The flowers are in shades of blue to violet and time of bloom is late August and September. Photos 1 and 2 below by Mary Sue Ittner are of plants that make good container plants. The flowers smell like cinnamon. Photo 3 by M. Gastil-Buhl shows corms grown by Jim Duggan on a 1 cm grid.
Babiana nana ssp. nana grows on sandy coastal flats and dunes from Saldanha to Milnerton. Leaves are ovate to broadly lanceolate (15 to 35 mm.) and held obliquely or sometimes at right angles to the sheaths.
Babiana odorata L. Bolus grows in clay soils in Renosterveld in the northwest and southwest Cape. Flowers are yellow to creamy yellow with broad yellow blotches on the lower tepals and with a spicy violet fragrance. Photo 1 was taken by Alan Horstmann and photo 2 was taken by Rod Saunders. Photos 3-4 were taken by Nhu Nguyen at the UC Botanical Garden.
Babiana patersoniae L.Bolus is a winter grower found on clay slopes in the South African Cape province, Caledon to the Eastern Cape. Flowers are white to pale blue to mauve with the lower lateral tepals partly cream-colored to yellow with darker red to purple markings near the base. Flowers are strongly scented of cloves, especially at night. The first photo by Sheila Burrow shows one she was growing in Western Australia. The second photo was taken by Rod Saunders.
Babiana patula N.E.Br. is mauve to blue with yellow markings or all yellow, very fragrant. It grows on clay flats and lower slopes from the southwestern Cape, the southern Cape and to Langeberg Mountains. The first photo was taken by Mary Wise. The next pictures were taken in habitat by Cameron McMaster near Napier in the Overberg.
The first photo by Bob Rutemoeller shows one blooming in the Little Karoo in September 2003, the second is a yellow flowered one blooming near Villiersdorp August 2006 and the third photo taken by Ragnhild Crawford is of a rare white flowered plant. The fourth photo was taken by Rod Saunders.
Babiana praemorsa Goldblatt & J.C.Manning is a species named in 2004. It grows on dolerite outcrops, often in rock crevices in the Northern Cape (Calvinia from the Hantamsberg to near Nieuwoudtville). It is one of the four Babiana species with truncate wedge shaped leaves. Flowers are dark violet with white to cream colored spear shaped marks often edged with red or dark blue on the lower lateral tepals. It has a longer tube than Babiana flabellifolia and tepals that spread horizontally and short filaments unlike Babiana cuneata which has ascending tepals and longer filaments. Photos 1-2 from Mary Sue Ittner taken near Nieuwoudtville in September 2001 and 2006 she thinks are this species. Photos 3-4 from Cameron McMaster were taken September 2011.
Babiana purpurea (Jacq.) Ker Gawl. has fragrant pink or purple flowers and is found in the southwest Cape on clay slopes and flats in renosterveld. The first photo taken at Drayton siding near Caledon September 2003 by Bob Rutemoeller and photos two and three by Cameron McMaster taken at Bot River, and Boskloof in the Overberg.
The first photo in the next row by Mary Sue Ittner of a plant purchased as Babiana blanda which is very rare, is instead Babiana purpurea. It comes back every year where it is growing in a pot in a raised bed and is an early bloomer (January or February). Additional photos from Alan Horstmann.
Babiana pygmaea G.J.Lewis has large yellow flowers with a dark purplish or brown center and grows on gravelly flats in the southwest Cape. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller. The first photo shows a plant that was grown from seed and subsequently was lost. The next two photos were taken in South Africa where Rod Saunders and Rachel Saunders are having more success growing this species.