Lapeirousia is a genus with about 40 species in the Iridaceae family that is found across sub-Saharan Africa from Nigeria and Ethiopia to the southwestern Cape. The rootstock is a bell shaped or triangular corm with a flat base with woody or densely compacted fibers. Leaves are flat and curved to narrow and pleated. A number of very diverse species are found in Namaqualand and the northwestern Cape in semiarid habitats. Many of the Cape and Namaqualand species are very small and also very striking. Some of these species can remain under ground some years and may not like to be disturbed so repotting every year is not recommended. More information can be found by consulting Manning, Goldblatt, Snijman listed in References.
One species that was once included in Anomatheca and before that in Lapeirousia most people now think should be called Freesia laxa. It has corms that resemble other Freesias instead of the more typical Lapeirousia corm. It can naturalize in temperate climates. Freesia laxa can still sometimes be found labeled Lapeirousia cruenta, Lapeirousia laxa, Anomatheca cruenta, or Anomatheca laxa.
Lapeirousia anceps is found in deep sand or stony slopes in fynbos from southern Namaqualand to Mossel Bay. Leaves are ribbed and linear. Flowers are cream to pink with a long slender tube and narrow tepals with red markings on the lower shorter tepals. The central upper petal is the largest. Photographs taken by David Retief.
Lapeirousia arenicola is found in deep red sand in Namaqualand. This short plant has a branched stem and cream to pink flowers with a red spot at the base of the lower smaller segments. The tube is shorter than in some of the other species. Photos 1-2 taken September 2006 by Mary Sue Ittner in Namaqualand. The last photo was taken by Rod Saunders.
Lapeirousia azurea is found on sandy and granitic slopes from Piketberg to Agulhas. Flowers are bilaterally symmetrical and deep blue with blackish markings. This photo was taken in the southwestern Cape in September 2006 by Mary Sue Ittner. Interestingly this plant from a distance looks a little like Babiana angustifolia which is also found in this area.
Lapeirousia barklyi Baker is a species growing from 10 to 15 cm found in the Northern Cape and Namibia. It has lilac to purple flowers with the tepals cupped at the base with large ridged toothlike calluses found on the lower tepals. The first photo was taken by Rod Saunders. The second photo was taken in the Richtersveld winter 2011 by Rachel Saunders in a spot where hundreds of them were growing in the reddish sand.
Lapeirousia corymbosa is a short plant with pale to deep blue flowers borne in clusters on a much branched stalk. Flowers have a white central star. This species is found on sandy and granitic slopes in the in the northwest and southwest Cape . Plants have a single sickle shaped wavy basal leaf. The first photo taken near Napier in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster. The other photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller. These were grown from seed from Silverhill Seeds and show the great variation in color you get from seedlings. This first one gives you a better idea of the size of the flowers and shows the buds and the leaves. This plant is a very shy bloomer in Northern California and often does not even appear.
Lapeirousia divaricata, is found in damp sandy places in the northwestern Cape from the Bokkeveld Escarpment to Citrusdel. This species has a single linear or sword shaped leaf and fragrant white to pale pink flowers with dark pink to red streaks on the lower tepals. The lateral tepals are reflexed with the upper central segment erect. Sometimes seed has been passed around that has been named for this species but is really Freesia laxa. This plant grown and photographed by Sheila Burrow appears to be the real thing. Photos 2-3 from Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller were taken September 2006 near the Biedouw Valley and at Ramskop in Clanwilliam. Photo 4 from Rod Saunders.
Lapeirousia fabricii is found on stony sandstone and granitic slopes from Namaqualand to Worcester. This species has ribbed linear leaves and flowers in short spikes on a branched stem. The cream to pink long tubed flowers often have a hooked tooth appendage and red markings on the lower tepals. Flowers are flushed pink on the back and are very pretty. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner taken September 2006 in Namaqualand showing the front and back of the flowers (and the long tube.) The last picture taken between Clanwilliam and Citrusdal illustrates the branched stem.
Lapeirousia jacquinii This is a small plant growing on sandstone soils from Namaqualand south to Worcester. Leaves are grey green and ribbed and flowers are long tubed on short spikes on a branched stem arising from several leaf like 2 keeled bracts, dark purple to violet with lowers tepals held close together and striped with white and red markings. The upper tepal is erect and larger. The first two pictures were taken by Mary Sue Ittner near Nieuwoudtville in the Bokkeveld Plateau September 2006 and the last by Bob Rutemoeller was taken in the southwesten Cape in September 2006. The final photo was taken by Mary Sue Ittner who find this a difficult plant to grow where she lives in Northern California. The photo shows one blooming in 2004.
Lapeirousia micrantha in found on rocky sandstone soils in fynbos from the Gifberg to Riversdale, flowering after a fire. Flowers are small in a flat topped panicle and are cream to red borne in groups high above the curved, crisped leaves. Photo taken by Cameron McMaster in Napier in the Overberg.
Lapeirousia montana grows on clay soils in the Roggeveld. The pale blue to whitish flowers are in a basal rosette and are radially symmetrical. It is similar to L. plicata but has larger flowers and more slender bracts. Photo taken by Cameron McMaster and Bob Rutemoeller in the Komsberg.
Lapeirousia neglecta has 3-6 sword shaped to falcate leaves and white or blue flowers in an open panicle. The lower tepals have darker markings. It flowers in late spring to summer after a fire and is found on rocky sandstone slopes in the southwestern Cape. The first photo was taken by Rod Saunders. The last photo by M.Gastil-Buhl shows seeds acquired from Silverhill Seeds 46 days from sowing on a 1 mm grid.
Lapeirousia oreogena, a striking species, is found in clay soils in the northwestern Cape. It has linear to sword shaped ribbed leaves and violet flowers with cream and blackish markings. The first two photos were taken by Bill Dijk and the next two by Mary Sue Ittner of plants in cultivation. Photo five by Bob Rutemoeller was taken in habitat near Nieuwoudtville and the BokkeveldPlateau September 2006 and the last photo was taken by Cameron McMaster in the same location September 2011.
Lapeirousia plicata has linear to sword shaped ribbed leaves and pale blue to white flowers in a basal tuft with large leafy crisped bracts. It is found on dry shale flats in the succulent karoo or renosterveld from Namibia to the Karoo, Worcester and the Little Karoo. Although it is possible that these seen near Middelpos in the Roggeveld are really L. montana, I think judging by the leaves that they may be this species. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner and Rod Saunders.
Lapeirousia pyramidalis is found on shale and sandstone soils, in fynbos and renosterveld in the drier areas of the southwestern and southern Cape. It has cream to bluish or dark purple to magenta long tubed flowers in a short dense spike and linear ribbed leaves. It forms a pyramid shape in bud with tightly packed blue green bracts. The narrow leaves are ribbed and horizontal on the ground. Photo of the buds by Cameron McMaster taken in the Overberg.
Lapeirousia pyramidalis ssp. pyramidalis is cream to bluish and found from southern Namaqualand to the Little Karoo. Photo taken August 2003 near Swellendam by Bob Rutemoeller and August 2006 near Villiersdorp by Mary Sue Ittner.
Lapeirousia pyramidalis ssp. regalis has dark purple to magenta flowers and is found on stony sandstone slopes in the Olifants River Valley. Photo 1 taken by Bob Rutemoeller of plants being grown by Gordon Summerfield. Photo 2 from Rod Saunders.
Lapeirousia sandersonii Baker [LC] is distributed in Botswana, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the northwest Cape. It grows from 18 to 30 cm. Photo from Andrew Harvie.
Lapeirousia schimperi is a large (to nearly a meter) summer growing species found in damp areas over a wide range in Africa, from Ethiopia south to Zimbabwe and west to Angola. It is a summer growing species which does well in pots that are dried off and kept in a frost free location indoors in winter. When grown in outdoor containers it is best to avoid both cold and wet conditions at the same time and to provide some shade to avoid excessive heating of the corms and roots in the container during very hot weather. Seeds are large for a lapeirousia and round and germinate in a couple of weeks given warm conditions. Plants will flower in their second year from seed, and corms can also produce offsets, both near the base and as small cormlets along the underground portion of the stem. Flowers open in the evening starting in August and continue doing so for several weeks. Photographs by Ernie DeMarie.
Lapeirousia silenoides is found in Namaqualand in coarse granite derived sand and in rocky places often in the crevices of granite outcrops. It is sometimes called "Springbok painted petals". Numerous magenta to cerise flowers with creamy yellow markings are borne close together. In a wet year like 2006, throughout Namaqualand were patches of bright pink from this plant and also Pelargonium incrassatum which is the very same color. Photos from Mary Sue Ittner from August 2001 and September 2006 and from Bob Rutemoeller taken in Namaqualand September 2006 show it growing in the rocks and the leaves and the long tube. The last photo was taken in the bulb room at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden by Bob Rutemoeller.