Kniphofia Species

Kniphofia is a large genus of about 70 Species in the Asphodelaceae family that are rhizomatous or have fleshy roots. They are from Africa, Madagascar and Yemen. Most of the species are from Africa, especially South Africa and many of the popular cultivars originated from South African species.


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Kniphofia acraea Codd is a species that was named in 1964 from a specimen found in Mountain Zebra Park overlooking Cradock in the Eastern Cape Province, but was not identified again until forty years later. Cameron McMaster and Tony Dold found it again in the same location in February 2004. In this population they grow in Karroid Mountain Veld on the summit at an altitude of 1900 m where snow is a regular winter occurrence. Plants are dwarfed, with short recurved leaves forming tight clumps no more than 150 mm above the ground. The orange tipped inflorescence reaches up to 500 mm and is adorned with rather short pale yellow flowers showing their stamens at anthesis. Another population was found at Waainek, which is a private nature reserve. In this population there had been a road cut and the plants had been exposed showing roots and rhizomes that were extremely robust and penetrated deep into the soil. Cameron notes that seed of this species is best sown in seed trays immediately after ripening in late autumn. Young plants can be transplanted into containers or open ground when approximately one year old and will thrive in well-drained situations. Plants flower in under two years from germination, and unlike most species of Kniphofia, K. acraea withstands frost and snow making it suitable for cold climate gardens. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster at Waainek and Bosberg in the Eastern Cape.

Kniphofia acraea, Waainek, Cameron McMasterKniphofia acraea, Waainek, Cameron McMasterKniphofia acraea, Waainek, Cameron McMasterKniphofia acraea, Bosberg, Cameron McMaster


Kniphofia albescens Codd is a robust poker with flowers in a dense inflorescence tapering to tip and base. Buds are greenish white or pinkish, erect, flowers cream or white, spreading at first, then hanging. Lobes are rounded, slightly spreading with stamens protruding. Leaves are up to a meter tall and from 8 to 15 mm wide, keeled, spreading, curved, tough and fibrous. It grows on dense grassveld mountain slopes, marshy places, from Natal to southern Transvaal, in altitudes between 1300 and 2000 m. It flowers January to May. Photo from Ellen Hornig.

Kniphofia albescens, Ellen Hornig


Kniphofia baurii Baker is found on streambanks, moist grassy slopes in the Eastern Cape. Growing to 1 m, it is found in small groups. Leaves are blue green or pale green and flowers are in a dense rounded inflorescence with green tinged dull red buds and hanging greenish to greenish yellow flowers. Photos 1-2 taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner January 2010 at Naude's Nek. Photo #3 from Rod Saunders. Photo 4 taken by Ellen Hornig.

Kniphofia baurii, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerKniphofia baurii, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerKniphofia baurii, Rod SaundersKniphofia baurii, Ellen Hornig


Kniphofia bruceae Codd is a rare, massive poker reaching over 2 m in height that was thought to be extinct until Cameron McMaster rediscovered it in the 1990 ties . The dense, tall inflorescenses feature yellow-greenish buds opening to cream flowers. It is similar to Kniphofia linearifolia, but has protruding stamens and bracts with long pointed tips. Photos from Cameron McMaster.

Kniphofia bruceae, Cameron McMasterKniphofia bruceae, Cameron McMasterKniphofia bruceae, Cameron McMaster


Kniphofia caulescens Baker grows from .6 to 1 m and is found in marshes, on wet cliffs, often in large colonies up to 3000 m in the Drakensberg. Being one of two species actually forming a mostly unbranched stem of up to 60 cm, it has blue grey green almost fleshy leaves that are finely toothed and a dense inflorescence with coral pink to red buds and pale green to creamy yellow flowers with protruding stamens. It blooms January to March. The first two photos were taken at Naude's Nek by Cameron McMaster. The third photo was taken by Rod Saunders. The last photo was taken by Ellen Hornig in Lesotho.

Kniphofia caulescens, Naude's Nek, Cameron McMasterKniphofia caulescens, Naude's Nek, Cameron McMasterKniphofia caulescens, Rod SaundersKniphofia caulescens, Lesotho, Ellen Hornig


Kniphofia citrina Baker is a small poker with globose yellow inflorescenses and somewhat glaucous, arched, strap-shaped, and keeled leaves. It grows in dense grass areas in the south-eastern coastal region from about sea level to about 600 m height and flowers mainly March to May. Photos from Cameron McMaster taken at Mount Thomas and Gaikas Kop in the Eastern Cape.

Kniphofia citrina, Mount Thomas, Cameron McMasterKniphofia citrina, Mount Thomas, Cameron McMasterKniphofia citrina, Gaika's Kop, Cameron McMaster


Kniphofia fibrosa Baker is a pale yellow poker with grasslike keeled leaves, erect, then bending in the middle and breaking into persistent fibres at the base. Buds are spreading and flowers hanging. The plants appear standing solitary on damp grassy slopes up to 2000 m in a scattered area in the eastern cape region and the Natal Midlands. This species flowers in late summer, January to March. Photos from Cameron McMaster.

Kniphofia fibrosa, Dohne Peak, Cameron McMasterKniphofia fibrosa, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMasterKniphofia fibrosa, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMasterKniphofia fibrosa, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMasterKniphofia fibrosa, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMaster


Kniphofia galpinii Baker is another species with fibrous grasslike leaves closely allied to Kniphofia triangularis, recorded from northern Swaziland and northern and central Natal in altitudes from 900 to 1800 m at grassy vleis locations. There seem to be many cultivars of this species. According to Elsa Pooley in her Field Guide this species is autumn flowering. St Andrews Botanic Garden, Scotland, reports it flowers there October-December. Other sources on the internet report summer flowering. Perhaps the time of flowering depends on where it is grown. Photos from Cameron McMaster.

Kniphofia galpinii, Cameron McMasterKniphofia galpinii, Cameron McMasterKniphofia galpinii, Cameron McMaster


Kniphofia hirsuta Codd is endemic to the Drakensberg and is found or rocky slopes or streams, up to 2900 m. It usually has softly hairy leaves, besides this it resembles Kniphofia ritualis. Photos taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner January 2010 at Naude's Nek.

Kniphofia hirsuta, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerKniphofia hirsuta, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerKniphofia hirsuta, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerKniphofia hirsuta, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerKniphofia hirsuta, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue Ittner

The first two photos below from Nhu Nguyen shows a cultivated form of what was identified as this species. The last photo is from Ellen Hornig.

Kniphofia hirsuta, Nhu NguyenKniphofia hirsuta, Nhu NguyenKniphofia hirsuta, Ellen Hornig


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