Lachenalia is a genus with bulbs in the Hyacinthaceae family found in Namibia and South Africa. There are around 110 species (80 of those are found in the Cape region.) Most of these have a dormancy period and grow new roots each year. Lachenalia species O-P are found on this page.
Lachenalia obscura grows on stony karroid flats from Namaqualand to the Karoo. It has bell-shaped flowers that are sessile to subsessile and cream to brownish blue, sometimes with magenta tips. The first photo was taken by Mary Sue Ittner September 2006 near Middelpos in the Roggeveld and the next two by Cameron McMaster in the same area at another time.
Lachenalia orchioides (L.) Ait. var. glaucina (Jacq.) W. F. Barker. For many years this variety was known as Lachenalia glaucina. The purple flowers make this variety a striking specimen and well worthy of inclusion in a collection. For me this variety flowers between the third week in September and the first week in November putting it towards the end of the flowering season. Description by Don Journet. The first two photos taken September 2006 at Lion’s Head by Mary Sue Ittner. The second two were also taken in Table Mountain National Park by Andrew Harvie.
Lachenalia orchioides (L.) Ait. var. orchioides is the most widespread variety. It has sessile greenish yellow sweetly smelling cylindrical flowers with the anthers included. The flowers fade to dull red as they mature. The first photo was taken by Cameron McMaster taken near Napier in the Overberg and the next two by Alan Horstmann.
Lachenalia orthopetala Jacq. has grass-like leaves that are fleshy with a deep central channel and upward facing white bell-shaped flowers with very distinctive dark brown gibbosities adding contrast. The peduncle is also a contrasting deep maroon which helps set off the white flowers. This late blooming species is very similar to Lachenalia contaminata . Some of the description from Don Journet. It grows in clay soils in the Northwest and Southwest Cape and blooms in spring. The first two photos by Mary Sue Ittner of plants grown from seed and blooming in Northern California in April. The last photo was taken in habitat in the Western Cape by Andrew Harvie.
Lachenalia pallida is found on clay flats in large colonies in the Northwest and Southwest Cape. It is cream to dark yellow with brown or green markings. Photo 1 was taken by Doug Westfall and 2-3 by Mary Sue Ittner. It is a good species for naturalizing. Photo 4-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen at the UC Botanical Garden. The last photo was taken by Cameron McMaster near Darling in the southwest Cape September 2011.
Lachenalia peersii is a late blooming species with a fragrance that is reminiscent of carnations. It flowers in profusion after fires and is common in Betty’s Bay, Hermanus and Caledon. It has one or two lorate unmarked leaves and white flowers with green or greenish brown gibbosities. The first photo taken by Cameron McMaster near Hermanus and the next by Mary Sue Ittner of cultivated plants.
Lachenalia polyphylla Baker is a very rare dwarf species known from less than 10 severely fragmented subpopulations between Piketberg and Gouda where it grows in moist, open, clay gravel flats. It has five to eight grass-like leaves with swollen leaf bases that are maroon colored in the upper half and covered with tiny hairs. Flowers are light whitish blue with dull rose-pink to reddish brown gibbosities. Stamens are well exserted and recurved. Flowering is from September to October.
Lachenalia purpureocaerulea is a late bloomer (spring) and has two pustulate leaves and bell shaped white to blue flowers at the base shading to magenta or purple. It is fragrant and the exserted anthers add to the beauty of the plant. It is from the southwest Cape where it grows in gravel flats. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Alan Horstmann.
Lachenalia pusilla Jacq. is a short plant with white flowers that are borne at ground level in a congested raceme. The four to six leaves are produced in a prostrate rosette and may vary in shape from linear to lanceolate and are plain or spotted. The peduncle or main flower stem is very short resulting in flowers opening at ground level. This appearance is probably why the species was at one stage included in the genus Polyxena. Due to its geometry this species is probably best suited to cultivation in pots or raised containers. As the seed mature the peduncle extends raising the seed capsules above the plant to presumably aid in seed dispersal. Information from Don Journet. The flowers have a scent that resembles coconut. It blooms in the fall and is common on sandy flats and slopes in the winter rainfall areas. the first two photos were taken by Mark Mazer and the next two by Cameron McMaster taken near Napier in the Overberg. His second photo shows the plant in seed. The last photo from Mary Sue Ittner gives an idea of how small these plants are as there are a number of plants in bud and bloom in a pot.
Lachenalia pustulata is a species of the southwest Cape that is often found growing in large colonies in heavy soil. It grows from 15 to 35 cm and has narrowly bell-shaped flowers on long pedicels in shades of cream, blue, or pink with green or brownish markings. Duncan states it is scented although Arnold Trachtenberg who furnished photos 1-3 detects no scent. Photos 4-5 from Mary Sue Ittner. It is very similar to Lachenalia unicolor.