Bowiea

Bowiea is a bulbous genus with only one species in the Hyacinthaceae family. In the new proposed changes of the southern hemisphere Hyacinthaceae by Manning, Goldblatt, and Fay it is in a subfamily with Drimia. The genus is named after the nineteenth-century British plant collector James Bowie.


Bowiea volubilis Harv. is found in southern and tropical Africa. The leaves are short lived and the flowers are in an interesting twining raceme, green or white and star-shaped. The flowers have an unpleasant smell and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Common name climbing sea onion.

Bowiea volubilis ssp. volubilis is widespread from Uganda to South Africa. It is a summer grower and is the one most common in cultivation. Photos 1-2 were taken by Cameron McMaster. Photo 3 was taken by Carol Jensen of a plant originating from the Copenhagen Botanic Garden.

Bowiea volubilis, Cameron McMasterBowiea volubilis, Cameron McMasterBowiea volubilis, Carol Jensen

Bowiea volubilis ssp. gariepensis (van Jaarsv.) Bruyns (syn. Bowiea gariepensis) is native to Namibia to the Northwestern Cape Province. The species B. gariepensis was put under B. volubilis in 1988. It is different than ssp. volubilis because of the larger and more conspicuous white flowers, rambling habit, glaucescent foliage, brown tunic on the bulb and is a winter grower. The photos below were taken by Dylan Hannon.

Bowiea volubilis ssp. gariepensis, Dylan HannonBowiea volubilis ssp. gariepensis, Dylan HannonBowiea volubilis ssp. gariepensis, Dylan Hannon

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