Bulbine

Bulbine is a genus in the Asphodelaceae family or some of the newest taxonomy suggests the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. It is closely related to Bulbinella but has flowers that are "bearded" with hairy stamens. Many of the species are not geophytes. We will be listing ones on this page that are tuberous or bulbous if we can determine that and perhaps some that are not. Distribution of the more or less 73 species is from tropical and southern Africa and also Australia. Leaves are linear to lanceolate and often succulent or fleshy. Flowers are small, mostly yellow (rarely white, orange or pink).


Bulbine abyssinica grows in rocky grassland and on stony flats and slopes from the western Karoo, South Africa to tropical Africa. Growing from 40 to 80 cm., it has linear succulent leaves in a basal rosette with broad membranous margins at the base, a simple or branched rootstock, and a densely crowded raceme of short lasting yellow flowers. The first three photos were taken at Gaika's Kop on a grassy slope that had burned within the past year. The fourth picture was taken (in the rain) on a stony flat near Andriesberg, and the fifth showing a plant in seed was taken in a very dry area near Cradock. Photos taken by Mary Sue Ittner, Bob Rutemoeller, and Cameron McMaster in the Eastern Cape.

Bulbine abyssinica, Gaika's Kop, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine abyssinica, Gaika's Kop, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine abyssinica, Gaika's Kop, Bob RutemoellerBulbine abyssinica, Andriesberg, Bob RutemoellerBulbine abyssinica, Cradock, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine abyssinica, Cameron McMaster

Bulbine alveolata is native to Northern Cape Province, South Africa. It is a winter grower and summer dormant plant. The leaves are delicate with mottled clearing. Grow the plant in a very well-draining mix with low organic matter (max 1:1 organic inorganic). It likes to stay moist throughout the winter growing season. Once the plant drops its leaves and starts to flower, water only sparingly until the plant goes completely dormant. Once that happens, stop watering until the fall when rain resumes. In the Bay Area, it does not like to be in full sun nor does it like to be too wet. The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 2 shows the diminutive nature of this plant in a 2.5inch (5 cm) pot. Photo 3 shows the thickened tuberous structure.

Bulbine alveolata, Nhu NguyenBulbine alveolata, Nhu NguyenBulbine alveolata, Nhu Nguyen

Bulbine alooides is from the western Cape and Namaqualand. It is short with attractive fleshy leaves and many small yellow flowers. It is quick to bloom from seed and flowers in late spring-early summer. It dies back afterwards. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner.

Bulbine alooides flower, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine alooides leaves, Mary Sue Ittner

Bulbine bulbosa is a species from Australia that is a dwarf perennial with a rootstock that is bulb-like with a tuber below. It has linear succulent leaves that are poisonous to stock and yellow flowers. It grows in forested areas, in sub-alpine regions, and exposed coastal locations. In cultivation it grows well in a container in dappled shade to full sun. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner showing the flowers and the rootstock on a grid of 1 cm. squares.

Bulbine bulbosa flowers, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine bulbosa roots, Mary Sue Ittner

Bulbine narcissifolia occurs singly or in colonies (the latter especially in overgrazed areas) on poor soils in grassland in southern Africa from the eastern regions of the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, north to Ethiopia. It has gray green strap shaped, sometimes twisted, semi succulent leaves, a dense spike-like inflorescence of yellow flowers in spring and summer, and a rhizomatous base. It is suitable for cultivation as it is both frost and drought tolerant and copes with a wide range of temperatures. The first two photos by Bob Rutemoeller were taken at Naude's Nek in the Eastern Cape. The last by Cameron McMaster is a close up of the flowers.

Bulbine narcissifolia, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerBulbine narcissifolia, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerBulbine narcissifolia, Cameron McMaster

Bulbine sp. This succulent species was photographed in the Komsberg by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner in September 2006. We don't know which species it is or if it is a geophyte.

Bulbine sp., Bob RutemoellerBulbine sp., Mary Sue Ittner

Bulbine succulenta is a rare species that grows on gravelly clay flats from Namaqualand to the western Karoo. It grows to 60 cm high from a lobed tuber that is covered by a hard casing that forms a thick fibrous collar around the base. This species has succulent leaves with blunt tips and a cylindrical raceme of yellow flowers. It flowers winter into early spring. Photos taken September 2011 near Nieuwoudtville by Cameron McMaster.

Bulbine succulenta, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMasterBulbine succulenta, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMaster

Bulbine torta is found in rocky dry places in Namaqualand and south into the Cederberg. It grows from a flat based tuber and has twisted or coiled thread-like leaves and yellow to light orange flowers with fluffy yellow stamens. In the wild it blooms July to September. Photographed September 2006 near Middelpos in the Roggeveld by Mary Sue Ittner.

Bulbine torta, Mary Sue Ittner

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Page last modified on February 20, 2012, at 07:51 AM