Haemanthus pubescens

Haemanthus pubescens is found on the sandy coastal plain from southern Namibia to Cape Town. In habitat it flowers March to April, occasionally earlier and is in leaf from March to October. It has 4 to 5 large fleshy spathe valves which surround the bright red or sometimes pink flowers. There are three subspecies.


Haemanthus pubescens ssp. arenicolus is distinguished from the others by having soft pubescens on the undersides (abaxial) of the leaves, sometimes glabrous. The leaves are channeled and recurved. The small populations of several individuals each are found in the coastal plains of southern Namibia and Namaqualand on wind-blown sandy soil. It usually blooms a bit earlier than some of the other subspecies. Bulbs are laterally compressed and form clumps. Since the basal disc persists the bulbs are usually elongated and often have an extended root zone. Photo 1 is of the leaves taken by Alan Horstmann in habitat.

Haemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, Alan Horstmann

Photos 1-2 were taken by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht, where photo 2 shows light hairs on the leaf margin. Photos 3-6 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. These photos show an immature infructescence and mature fruits which resulted from self-pollination. Unfortunately, this bulb had a mosaic virus and the virus were passed down to the seedlings. The seedlings showed mottled young leaves and none of them return the following year after their first summer dormancy. There is a chance that virus particles were passed on from the maternal fruit tissue, but attempts to bleach the seeds also failed.

Haemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtHaemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtHaemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, fruits, Nhu NguyenHaemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, fruits, Nhu NguyenHaemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, fruits, Nhu NguyenHaemanthus pubescens subsp. arenicolus, fruits, Nhu Nguyen

Haemanthus pubescens ssp. leipoldtii is distinguished from the others by having no hairs on either the upper or undersides of the leaves. If hairs are present, they are only found on the leaf margins. Leaves are prostrate and planar. Bulbs are mostly solitary and are laterally compressed. It is known only from a small area of Namaqualand north of the Olifants river where windblown sand accumulates. Flowers have spathe valves that are the largest in the genus.


Haemanthus pubescens ssp. pubescens is distinguished from the others by having dense pubescens on the upper (adaxial) side of the leaves. It occurs in loose sandy soil of the strandveld and coastal fynbos of the Western Cape. Bulblets form much more readily than the other two subspecies. Photos from Hans Joschko.

Haemanthus pubescens ssp. pubescens, Hans JoschkoHaemanthus pubescens ssp. pubescens, Hans JoschkoHaemanthus pubescens ssp. pubescens, Hans JoschkoHaemanthus pubescens ssp. pubescens, Hans Joschko

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Page last modified on March 27, 2014, at 06:29 PM