Litanthus

Litanthus is a genus in the Hyacinthaceae family native to southern Africa with one species. Named by Harvey in 1884, it has been now been included by Goldblatt and Manning in Drimia along with other genera once separated. Drimia uniflora is the sole representative of the Litanthus group of that genus. The flowers look very different from some of the flowers in the other groups.


Litanthus pusillus now known as Drimia uniflora is found in rock outcrops from Namaqualand to Zimbabwe. It is a small plant, perhaps the smallest of all bulbs growing only 2-8 cm (1-3 inches) tall. The leaves are solitary (occasionally two), linear, and are often dry at flowering. The flowers are nodding white to pale pink, often with some markings on the tepals. In the wild it blooms November to March (May-September in the northern hemisphere). The flowers seem self fertile. The seeds are not hard to germinate, but growing seedlings can be a challenge. Since the seeds are so tiny and dust-like, the seedlings are also tiny. They must be sown near the surface of a well-drained medium, but one that does not contain any sizable pieces of material. These larger pieces of the seedling mix (larger than 2 mm) can block sunlight and impede development in the tiny seedlings. Sow the seeds in spring and allow them to grow throughout the warm season. They may or may not go dormant in the first year. Grow the tiny mature bulbs in a well-drained mix, but more on the organic side. Give the bulbs plenty of water during the growing season because in habitat, they seem to occur in more moist soils. Allow the bulbs to dry out during their winter dormancy.

Photograph #1 and 2 taken by Cameron McMaster in the Eastern Cape in November and January. The third photo from Mary Sue Ittner was taken at Glen Avon. This tiny plant was growing on a rock and something had uncovered the bulbs. To get an idea of size, you can see the tiny flower on the top right side of the third photo.

Drimia uniflora, syn. Litanthus pusillus, Cameron McMasterDrimia uniflora, syn. Litanthus pusillus, Glen Avon, Cameron McMasterDrimia uniflora, syn. Litanthus pusillus, Glen Avon, Mary Sue Ittner

The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of his bulbs showing various aspects of the plant.

Drimia uniflora, Nhu NguyenDrimia uniflora, Nhu NguyenDrimia uniflora, Nhu NguyenDrimia uniflora, Nhu NguyenDrimia uniflora, Nhu Nguyen

Drimia groups besides Litanthus in the expanded genus: Drimia - Rhadamanthus - Tenicroa - Urginea


For a listing of all the species in the expanded genus see the Drimia index


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Page last modified on January 14, 2011, at 04:29 PM