Moraea Species Nine

The genus Moraea can be divided into five groups: Galaxia, Gynandriris, Hexaglottis , Homeria, and Moraea.

Moraea index lists all the species in all five groups alphabetically.


Moraea group species T are found on this wiki page.


The other species in the Moraea group are listed alphabetically on these wiki pages: 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 U-V


Moraea thomasiae grows on south-facing slopes in the renosterveld in the Northwest Cape and the Karoo Mountains. It has pale yellow flowers with dark veins and blooms late winter-early spring. The first two pictures were taken by Bob Rutemoeller in September 2003 in the Little Karoo and the third garden plant was photographed by Bob Werra.

Moraea thomasiae, Little Karoo, Bob RutemoellerMoraea thomasiae, Little Karoo, Bob RutemoellerMoraea thomasiae, Bob Werra

Moraea tortilis is a species from Namaqualand where it is often associated with quartzite outcrops. It has blue or white short lived flowers with reflexed inner tepals and small nectar guides. Leaves are coiled like a corkscrew. Photo by Bob Werra.

Moraea tortilis, Bob Werra

Moraea tricolor, found on wet sandy flats in the southwestern Cape, blooms in late winter-early spring in the wild. It's best known for having bright pink flowers, but Gordon Summerfield reports that in the wild they can have a wide range of colors, including red, purple, orange, yellow, white, green, and terra cotta. The flowers are short lived but appear over a period of several weeks. They have yellow nectar guides on the outer tepals and are fragrant. Photos by Bob Werra and Alan Horstmann.

Moraea tricolor, Bob WerraMoraea tricolor, Bob WerraMoraea tricolor, Alan HorstmannMoraea tricolor, Alan Horstmann

Photos taken by Cameron McMaster near Napier in the Overberg show a form without dark maroon edging on the yellow nectar guides.

Moraea tricolor, Cameron McMasterMoraea tricolor, Cameron McMaster

Photos below were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. The last shows the corms on a 1 cm. grid.

Moraea tricolor, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tricolor, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tricolor, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tricolor, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tricolor, Mary Sue Ittner

Moraea tricuspidata is a late blooming Moraea that resembles Moraea bellendenii except it is a bit shorter and white. It grows on sandstone, granite, or sometimes clay slopes and is found in quite a few different areas of the Cape. It doesn't always bloom each year for me in cultivation and is reported to bloom well after a fire. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller of one in cultivation and one growing in a wild area of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden seen September 2006.

Moraea tricuspidata, Bob RutemoellerMoraea tricuspidata, Kirstenbosch, Bob Rutemoeller

Moraea trifida is a summer rainfall species that occurs in eastern Southern Africa where it grows in moist grassland. It has a single leaf that is often not longer than the stem and small cream to dull yellow usually unbranched flowers with trilobed inner tepals. Photos 1-3 by Cameron McMaster taken in the Eastern Cape. Photos 4-6 taken by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller January 2010 at Naude's Nek.

Moraea trifida_Balloch, Cameron McMasterMoraea trifida, Cameron McMasterMoraea trifida, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMasterMoraea trifida, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea trifida, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerMoraea trifida, Naude's Nek, Bob Rutemoeller

Moraea tripetala. In late 2012, this species was divided into nine species and three varieties, based on genetics, plant anatomy, and flowering time. They generally have dark to light blue or purple flowers; small or missing inner tepals; and bloom in the winter to spring. The photos you see here are all members of the former Moraea tripetala, but have not yet been sorted into the new species. For an overview of the new species carved from M. tripetala, click the link below the photos.

The plants formerly known as M. tripetala are widely distributed in the winter rainfall areas of South Africa, found on rocky sandstone and clay soils. Flowers are open for a few days. The first two photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner were of flowers seen near Middelpos in the Roggeveld September 2006. The next three were taken September 2006 near Nieuwoudtville. The last flower photo was also taken near Nieuwoudtville by Andrew Harvie in 2009.

Moraea tripetala, Middelpos, Bob RutemoellerMoraea tripetala, Middelpos, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tripetala, Nieuwoudtville, Bob RutemoellerMoraea tripetala, Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tripetala, Nieuwoudtville, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tripetala, Nieuwoudtville, Andrew Harvie

Photos by Bob Rutemoeller of garden flowers in Northern California and by Mary Sue Ittner of blooming in 2005 when it bloomed for a long time and abundantly in two Northern California gardens. The third photo of mass bloom was taken by Bob Werra and the fourth photo showing a lighter from was taken by Alan Horstmann. The last two photos taken by Arnold Trachtenberg are of corms donated by Bob Werra in BX 79 and grown under HID lights.

Moraea tripetala, Bob RutemoellerMoraea tripetala, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea tripetala, Bob WerraMoraea tripetala, Alan HorstmannMoraea tripetala, Arnold TrachtenbergMoraea tripetala, Arnold Trachtenberg

The first photo shows corms from Telos with netted tunics on a 1 cm grid. The second photo uses blue Painter's Tape as a color reference and measures flower diameter at 4 cm. The above-ground parts of three dried plants laid on a 1 cm grid (bold lines are cm) in the third photo show the angular stem shape and single leaf. The fourth photo shows the empty seed pods. In the fifth photo the flower is pulled open to reveal an anther. Because the anthers are pressed tight to the outer tepals, in my garden, unless I open the flower and pollinate by hand, the seed pods do not swell with seeds as seen in the sixth photo. Photos by M. Gastil-Buhl.

Moraea tripetala corms, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea tripetala, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea tripetala dry plants, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea tripetala seed pods, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea tripetala anther, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea tripetala seed pods, M. Gastil-Buhl

To identify the tripetala relatives, you'll need to know how to recognize some Moraea flower parts:

One shared characteristic of the tripetala “complex,” as it’s now called, is a small or completely missing inner tepal. The inner tepals are the three inner petals of the Moraea flower, corresponding to the standards in an Iris. The tiny fishhook-shaped appendages in the center of the photo below are the inner tepals of one of the tripetalas.

Moraea tripetala inner tepal, Michael Mace

Much attention is also paid to the nectar guide, the contrasting color spot found on the outer tepals (the large petals, corresponding to the falls in an Iris). This is usually white or yellow in these species. Iris fanciers call this spot the signal, but Moraea growers sometimes call it the eye.

Other distinguishing characteristics include leaf anatomy and length, number of leaves, corm anatomy, and shape and size of other flower parts. We haven’t given all of those details here. If you need them, read the article linked below.

The descriptions we give here were adapted from Systematics of the Hypervariable Moraea tripetala Complex, by Goldblatt & Manning, Bothalia 42, 2.

Flowers with threadlike inner tepals

Moraea amabilis. Flowers purple or dark blue, but occasionally pink, yellow, or brown in populations near Worcester. Nectar guides white with purple speckles. Inner tepals hair-like, under 2.5 mm. The parent corm is usually replaced annually by two daughter corms that split off and descend at roughly a 90-degree angle to one-another. Blooms September - October.

Moraea grandis. Largest flowers in the tripetala complex, pale blue to pale purple. Nectar guides are triangular, yellow or cream, on a white background, and are spotted and edged in dark blue. Inner tepals hairlike, under 3.5 mm. Pollen orange-red. Blooms August to September. Grows in the northwestern Karoo.

Moraea ogamana. Pale blue, triangular yellow nectar guides with dark lines radiating from them. Inner tepals threadlike, under four mm. White pollen. Often has a cormlet in the leaf axil. Western Cape lowlands. Blooms Aug-Sept.

Moraea tripetala ssp. tripetala. Pale blue to purple flowers. Nectar guides are usually white dotted and edged with dark blue, but occasionally are yellow. Inner tepals are usually hair-like and under five mm long, or may be completely absent. Pollen red or white. Has a single leaf. Blooms August to October. Reportedly does not reproduce by cormlets in the wild.

Moraea tripetala ssp. violacea. Dark violet flowers with yellow nectar guides. Relatively short plants. Stiff hair-like inner tepals around 2 mm in length, pollen white. Ceres to western Karoo. Blooms August to October.

Moraea tripetala ssp. jacquiniana. Looks similar to typical M. tripetala, but usually dark violet, and always with white nectar guides. Inner tepals are 4-6 mm long, pollen red, blooms in early summer (November to January).

Flowers with variable inner tepals

Moraea cuspidata. Pale blue, mauve, or violet flowers, large white fuzzy nectar guides. Dark violet dots in the nectar guides and often on the outer tepals. The inner tepals are linear (thicker than a thread, but straight-sided) and usually over 10 mm long. Pollen usually red. Blooms mid-September to late October. This is an inland species from arid mountain areas.

Moraea decipiens. Pale to deep purple flowers with a white wedge-shaped nectar guide and a dark violet stripe above it. The inner tepal widens in the middle so it almost divides into three points. Pollen is orange-red. Plants grow in the western Piketberg and bloom in late October.

Moraea hainebachiana. Pale violet to deep blue flowers. Nectar guides have dark lines and dots on a diffuse white background, with dark lines radiating onto the tepals. Inner tepals expanded in the middle. Blooms August to September. Grows cormlets in the leaf axil and at the base of the parent corm. This species does not set seed, and its pollen appears to be infertile. It apparently reproduces through cormlets. (This was the first plant in South Africa named via auction to raise money for plant conservation.)

Moraea helmei. Pale blue to violet flowers. The outer tepals have dark veins on them. The nectar guide is yellow, outlined in light or dark blue. The inner tepals have three straight tines, like a fork. Pollen is yellow. Known from only two sites in central Namaqualand. Blooms late October to mid-November.

Moraea mutila. Pale blue or white flowers, nectar guides white to pale yellow with dark blue or purple spots. Inner tepals are more or less linear, or may widen into rounded lobes midway along their length. Pollen red or yellow. Blooms late August to late September. Grows from the Cape peninsula north to Piketberg and east to Tulbagh.


Moraea tulbaghensis now includes the species formerly known as Moraea neopavonia. Some growers have continued to use the old name to identify plants that closely match its description (see examples below).

Both of the former species have orange flowers with speckled centers, but the ones previously identified as M. tulbaghensis have smaller flowers held in a cup shape, longer anthers, and iridescent greenish nectar guides. The former M. neopavonia has larger flat-faced flowers with blue, black, or absent nectar guides. The two species were merged because botanists discovered intermediate forms between the two species, making it impossible to distinguish between them reliably.

The first five photos show the classic M. tulbaghensis form. The first photo was taken by Bob Rutemoeller of plant grown by Gordon Summerfield and the next two by Bob Werra. He admitted he blew on the flower to make the close-up open more fully for his picture. The final two are by Michael Mace, showing the greenish nectar guide and cup-shaped flower.

Moraea tulbaghensis, Bob RutemoellerMoraea tulbaghensis, Bob WerraMoraea tulbaghensis, Bob WerraMoraea tulbaghensis green eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis green eye side view, Michael Mace

These photos show the classic M. neopavonia form with its flat flower and bright blue nectar guide. The first photo by Bob Rutemoeller was taken at the August 2006 IBSA meeting. The second photo by Michael Mace is of a plant grown in California.

Moraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, Bob RutemoellerMoraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, Michael Mace

Here are some other flowers previously classified as M. neopavonia. The nectar guide is sometimes small, black, or absent. The last photo shows a flower with streaks of color in it. This one had faded in the sun for several days; normally it's orange at the center and orange-yellow at the tips, but does not have white streaks. Photos by Michael Mace.

Moraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, dark blue eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, narrow blue eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, small black eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, almost no eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, streaky tepals, Michael Mace

These photos show some intermediate forms. The first two have the form of M. tulbaghensis but blue and chratreuse nectar guides. The third has the M. neopavonia form but a gray-green eye. The fourth is somewhat cup shaped but has a blue nectar guide. And the fifth is flat and has a blue eye like M. neopavonia, but has the size and other characteristics of M. tulbaghensis.

Moraea tulbaghensis, blue eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, chartreuse eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, neopavonia form, greenish eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, semi-flat, blue eye, Michael MaceMoraea tulbaghensis, small, flat, blue eye, Michael Mace

Galaxia - Gynandriris - Hexaglottis - Homeria A-J - 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 U-V - Moraea hybrids - Moraea index


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