Babiana is a large genus in the family Iridaceae from southern Africa. Species A-H are found on this page.
Babiana ambigua (Roem. & Schult.) G.J.Lewis is winter growing, found on sandy flats and slopes in the South African Cape. This one is easy to grow in the garden. The first photo below was taken by Bob Rutemoeller. The second photograph was taken in the wild in the western Cape and the photos three and four were taken near Villiersdorp August 2006 of what we believe is this species. Photo #5 was taken near Nieuwoudtville. Photos 3-5 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo number 6 was taken by Rod Saunders.
Babiana angustifolia Sweet is found on seasonally damp clay flats and lower slopes in renosterveld in the northwest and southwest Cape. It blooms late winter early spring and has blue to violet flowers with black or red markings on the lower tepals. The subequal tepals are held in a shallow cup that encloses the stamens and style. This is one of four species with an inverted perianth with the dorsal tepal and arched stamens facing the spike tip. The first picture was taken by Alan Horstmann. Pictures two and three were taken in habitat near Darling in the southwest Cape by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. Photo four was taken by Cameron McMaster in the same location. The last photo was taken by Rod Saunders.
Babiana blanda is a species with large bright rosy pink flowers. It is on the brink of extinction in the wild where its habitat of seasonally wet, sandy or loamy flats in the southwestern Cape is nearly gone. It has rosy pink actinomorphic flowers. Photo by Rod Saunders.
Babiana cedarbergensis G.J. Lewis is found on rocky sandstone flats above 1000 meters in the Cederberg. This is a short plant growing 4 to 6 cm. with sword shaped rigid pleated leaves and pale to deep violet flowers with white markings outlined in dark blue on the lower lateral tepals. Photos by Audrey Cain and Mary Sue Ittner.
Babiana cuneata J.C.Manning & Goldblatt grows on rocky sandstone or dolerite slopes and flats in the northwest Cape and Roggeveld. This species was named in 2004 as a new long tubed species when former species Babiana cunefolia and Babiana truncata were included in Babiana flabellifolia. It blooms in late August-September. It is one of four species with leaves that are abruptly truncate. It differs from the others by having an elongate perianth tube (40-60 mm long) and ascending tepals. The pale to deep blue flowers with white spear shaped markings on the lower lateral tepals outlined in dark violet are at ground level. Flowers closely resemble Babiana sambucina. The first three photos were taken by Cameron McMaster in the Komsberg and the last two photos were taken by Mary Sue Ittner near Middelpos, all in the Roggeveld.
These photos show plants grown (two to four clones together) and photographed by Dylan Hannon from material originally collected near Patatsrivier, Lavranos 30427 received as B. truncata
Babiana curviscapa G.J.Lewis is a species found in Namaqualand in flat sandy places. Flowers are in a horizontal spike, magenta to violet to deep blue and the lower lateral lobes have spoon shaped white markings. The first photo of this one growing in Northern California by Bob Rutemoeller and the second and third which could be this species photographed in Namaqualand by Mary Sue Ittner. The fourth picture was taken by Rod Saunders, and the fifth by Cameron McMaster near Kamieskroon in Namaqualand September 2011. The last was taken by Michael Mace.
Babiana dregei Baker is found in rock crevices on hills and mountain slopes on sandy stony soil in central Namaqualand. It grows to 15 cm tall with an erect branched stem. Leaves are erect, rigid, sword-shaped and slightly pleated with thickened veins and margins with a sharp ridged tip. Flowers are deep purple-blue to magenta with white splashes edged with a darker color on the three lower shorter tepals. Flowering occurs mainly in late August and September with the long tubed flowers pollinated by the long proboscid fly. Photos 1-5 taken in Namaqualand by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner of what we believe to be this species. Photo 6 taken by Cameron McMaster September 2011 near Kamieskroon.
Babiana ecklonii is found in rock crevices or among rocks on flats and lower mountain slopes from Namaqualand to the southwest Cape. This species has lance-shaped hairy leaves and blue to violet flowers with a large white to pale yellow blotch on the two lower lateral segments. It has an elongate perianth tube and the stem can be sheathed by the bases of the erect leaves. It flowers August to September. Photos taken different years of plants received as this species by Mary Sue Ittner.
Babiana flabellifolia Harv. ex Klatt grows in doleritic clay outcrops in rock cracks where it is protected from the predators. The leaves are wedge shaped and the flowers violet with cream markings. The tube is white to yellow, cylindrical, straight, 12 to 36 mm. long. The sweetly scented flowers smell like carnations. In the Babiana revision species Babiana cunefolia and Babiana truncata are now included in Babiana flabellifolia except for longer tubed collections which are now considered to be in a new species, Babiana cuneata. The range of this species is from northern Namaqualand south to the Bokkeveld Plateau. Photo taken by Rod Saunders.
Babiana fragrans (Jacq.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning is a winter grower found on sandstone, granite and occasionally clay slopes in the northwest and southwest Cape of South Africa. It has pale violet flowers that are occasionally creamy yellow usually with a narrow median streak or blotch on the lower lateral tepals and dark blue or purple markings near the base. Flowers are usually fragrant. It has formerly been known under the names Babiana plicata and Babiana disticha. The first photo below was taken by Sheila Burrow who was growing it in Australia. In the second photograph by Bob Rutemoeller there is a Sparaxis grandiflora ssp. acutiloba blooming below it. The third photo from Mary Sue Ittner shows the corms on a 1 cm grid.
Photos taken in habitat by Mary Sue Ittner September 2006 at Bainskloof and Lion's Head show the variations in flower color and flowers blooming in mass the spring after a fire.
Babiana framesii L.Bolus is found on rock outcrops in karroid scrub on the Bokkeveld Plateau near Nieuwoudtville. It has dark blue-purple flowers that have arrow shaped white markings on the midline outlined in darker blue or red on the lower lateral tepals. Tepals are narrow and spread almost at right angles to the enlongate (6-7 cm) and slightly curved tube. The first two photographs were taken by Mary Sue Ittner and three and four by Bob Rutemoeller near Nieuwoudtville in September 2006.
This plant is a reliable bloomer in my Northern California garden where it blooms in February and often gets rained on as illustrated in the second photo. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The last shows corms on a 1 cm grid.
Babiana hirsuta (Lam.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning (syn. Babiana thunbergii, Antholyza plicata, Antholyza hirsuta) is a coastal plant growing on sandy dunes and flats in the northwest and the southwest Cape. It has stiff, pleated velvety lanceolate leaves and red recurved unusual flowers. Wild populations of this species are reported to be self-incompatible and depend on birds for pollination. Photos from Cameron McMaster taken in the western Cape.
Babiana hypogaea Burch. is found on red sand plains in Namibia, the northern Cape, in Bushmanland and the Upper Karoo. Even though it grows on the edge of the summer rainfall area, it flowers mainly in the dry late winter and spring. Corms are edible with a sweet nutty flavor. Flowers are greenish yellow to buff flushed with pale brown or mauve outside and arise from below ground level. The lower tepals have pale nectar guides edged with reddish arrow shaped marks near the base and with dark reddish streaks in the throat.