The genus Moraea can be divided into five groups: Galaxia, Gynandriris, Hexaglottis, Homeria, and Moraea. Homeria which was once considered to be a separate genus in the Iridaceae family is now included in Moraea. There are about 32 species of this Moraea subgroup native to southern Africa. They have long narrow basal leaves, sometimes only one per corm and large yellow, pink, orange, or bicolor flowers with six fairly equal tepals. The leaves of some species can be poisonous and are avoided by sheep and cattle and can then multiply freely. Some species have a reputation of being weedy and they are not welcomed in Australia because of the agricultural concerns. In the United States, five species in the Homeria group are classified by the federal government as "noxious weeds:" M. collina, flaccida, miniata, ochroleuca, and pallida. It is not legal to import them or transfer them between states without a permit. The plants are, though, allowed within California by the state government. Homerias are not very hardy so there is little danger of their becoming weedy in climates not to their liking, and even in mild climates like California they are not particularly aggressive in the garden. But it's probably wise to keep them away from open range-land. Although the flowers only last a day or two, some of the species produce flowers over a long period. Information and pictures of the other Moraea groups can be found by clicking on these groups or the Moraea group pages listed below or found in the Moraea index where all species are listed alphabetically. Homeria subgroup species A-J are found on this wiki page.
Moraea bifida (L. Bolus) Goldblatt (syn. Homeria bifida) is found on clay flats in renosterveld in the western Karoo and Bokkeveld Mountains to Pakhuis Pass. It has one clasping channeled broad leaf and salmon pink or yellow flowers minutely speckled in the center with a bulbous filament column. The anthers cohere and conceal the style branches. The flowers are very similar to Moraea miniata which grows in the same area, but has two leaves instead of one. Photos below were taken September 2006 by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The first two photos were taken in the Komsberg. The third through fifth photographs taken between Calvinia and Nieuwoudtville September 2006 of a yellow flowered form. The last photograph also shows the seed pods and the bulbous filament column.
Moraea britteniae (L. Bolus) Goldblatt is found on sandy slopes in the southeastern Cape. It grows 20 to 45 cm tall, has a single leaf that clasps the stem and pale yellow to cream flowers. It blooms September to October. Photos from Andrew Harvie taken in the Buffelsnek State Forest, southern Cape.
Moraea collina Thunberg (syn. Homeria collina) has a single linear leaf and yellow or salmon flowers. It is found on lower mountain slopes and flats on sand or clay in the southwest Cape. Here in Southern California, this one blooms late spring/early summer. It is a good "filler" growing where many other things will not grow, including full sun. The first two photos taken by Cameron McMaster near Napier in the Overberg. The third was taken by Doug Westfall. The fourth photo was taken by Dirk Wallace.
This little bulb came into the normal trade about 15 years ago, and is widely available as a mix of two color forms, a yellow and an orange. The plant is reasonably hardy in Victoria, British Columbia, but the hard freezes we get some winters kill most of the bulbs. As with many colored flowers, it is difficult to get an image that more or less accurately represents the color. The three photographs listed below are not technically perfect, but with a monitor set for a 9300K color temperature, the colors are fairly close to what you will actually see. Photos by Rodger Whitlock
Moraea comptonii (L. Bolus) Goldblatt (syn. Homeria comptonii) is found on the SW Cape on clay slopes in renosterveld. It flowers in spring. It has a single linear trailing leaf and yellow or salmon flowers with a yellow center. Tepals often have a large central green mark and are coconut scented. This species is very close to Moraea elegans. The main difference is in the shape of the tepals. The tepals of M. comptonii are widest in the upper third and in M. elegans widest in the lower third. The anthers are longer than the style branches in M. elegans. The first photo was taken at Wave Hill where it was identified as this species although it could be Moraea elegans. Photo by Arnold Trachtenberg. The second photo by Mary Sue Ittner was taken of orange flowered plants grown from seed blooming March 2006 in between rainstorms. The third photo is from Alan Horstmann.
Moraea doleritica grows on dolerite outcrops in the Great Karoo. Flowering in spring (September-October) it has short lived pale yellow flowers with dark yellow nectar guides that have dark spots on them. Flowers open in the morning and close by noon.
Moraea eburnea has ivory-yellow flowers with yellow nectar guides. Each flower lasts for a single day. It is known from just one farm in the foothills north of the Klein Swartberg Mountains and flowers in spring (September-October).
Moraea elegans Jacquin (syn. Homeria elegans) is a member of the Homeria group with a habitat on clay slopes in the southwestern Cape, blooming late winter, early spring. Peter Goldblatt of the Missouri Botanical Garden has reported that the dark markings attract beetles which pollinate the flowers. M. elegans is a very striking species, but one Mary Sue Ittner has found hard to keep going in cultivation. Michael Mace, gardening in a slightly drier/warmer climate, reports that the yellow and green form persists well in pots in his garden. First two photos by Mary Sue Ittner, third by Bob Werra, and fourth by Michael Mace.
"On 13 August 2005 we came across a population of the very rare and localised Moraea elegans. We found these in the Napier district on a gentle slope below a drain from nearby arable fields and road. The population consisted of a large number of vigorous plants in all stages, but was confined to a small area (30 x 40 m) which benefited from the runoff from the drainage channel. The habitat was therefore seasonably moister than the surrounding renosterveld." Cameron McMaster. Pictures from Cameron McMaster and Alan Horstmann illustrate some of the variations in colour.
Moraea fenestrata (Goldblatt) Goldblatt (syn. Homeria fenestrata) grows on clay soils in renosterveld in the western Karoo. Flowering from August-September, plants are from 10 to 30 cm high with three linear channeled leaves. Flowers are enclosed in green spathes and are salmon with yellow nectar guides or uniformly yellow. Photos taken September 2011 near Middelpos in the Roggeveld by Cameron McMaster.
Moraea flaccida Sweet (syn. Homeria flaccida) has a single leaf and yellow or salmon flowers with a yellow center. It is found in wet sandstone and granitic slopes and flats, often in wet places in the northwest and southwest Cape and flowers in spring. First three photos by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller taken on Lion’s Head, September 2007. Fourth photo by Michael Mace, taken in captivity. The last photo was taken by Dirk Wallace.
Moraea hybrids in this subgroup are pictured on the Moraea hybrids wiki page.
Galaxia - Gynandriris - Hexaglottis - Homeria K-Z - Moraea group A - Moraea group B - Moraea group C-E - Moraea group F - Moraea group G-I - Moraea group J-M - Moraea group N-R - Moraea group S - Moraea group T - Moraea group U-V - Moraea Hybrids - Moraea index