Moraea Species Seven

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 N-R 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 S - Moraea group T - Moraea group U-V


Moraea natalensis grows in seasonally wet exposed areas from KwaZulu-Natal to tropical Africa. The lilac to blue violet flowers with yellow nectar guide edged with a mauve outline bloom in summer. Flowers open late morning. Photo by Audrey Cain.

Moraea natalensis, Audrey Cain

Moraea neglecta is found growing in deep sandy soils in the northwest and southwest Cape and the Agulhas coast blooming in spring. It has large yellow flowers with penciling on the nectar guide and opens at mid day. The first picture was taken by Bob Rutemoeller in the Bontebok National Park in September 2003 where it was blooming close to the road. The other pictures were taken by Cameron McMaster in the Overberg, at Boskloof, Fairfield, and Napier. The last pictures show the seed capsules.

Moraea neglecta, Bob RutemoellerMoraea neglecta, Boskloof, Cameron McMasterMoraea neglecta, Fairfield, Cameron McMasterMoraea neglecta, Napier, Cameron McMasterMoraea neglecta, seed capsules, Cameron McMaster

Photos below were taken by Andrew Harvie at Silvermine in Table Mountain National Park.

Moraea neglecta, Silvermine, Andrew HarvieMoraea neglecta, Silvermine, Andrew HarvieMoraea neglecta, Silvermine, Andrew Harvie

Moraea neopavonia is now considered to be part of the species Moraea tulbaghensis by Manning and Goldblatt. This form has larger flowers that open more fully, some of them with a bright blue nectar guide. Because of the differences, some growers still use the old name for their plants (for a full discussion of the differences, see the listing for M. tulbaghensis). It is from the northwest and southwest Cape where it grows in clay flats in renosterveld and blooms in spring. This is a rare plant as most of its former habitat has been converted to farmland. The first picture, by Lyn Edwards, is of one grown in her Canberra garden. The next two were taken by Alan Horstmann. The final three were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. She writes: "It was in bud for four or five days and I thought it would never open. I finally moved it to a place out of the wind that was warmer and it opened and stayed in bloom for many days afterwards and a second flower opened as well."

Moraea neopavonia, Lyn EdwardsMoraea neopavonia, Alan HorstmannMoraea neopavonia, Alan HorstmannMoraea neopavonia, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea neopavonia, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea neopavonia, Mary Sue Ittner

Photos 1-4 below from Bob Werra. In June 2012 M. Gastil-Buhl found the two corms shown on a 1 cm grid in photo 5 attached to the stem of the bud opening that March in photo 6.

Moraea neopavonia, Bob WerraMoraea neopavonia, Bob WerraMoraea neopavonia, Bob WerraMoraea neopavonia, Bob WerraMoraea neopavonia, corms, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea neopavonia, M. Gastil-Buhl

The photos below show some variations seen in the wild by Colin Paterson-Jones. The first photo shows a spotted form, found at De Brug, Western Cape. The second photo is of a red form, which Colin believes is probably a natural hybrid with Moraea villosa. It was found at the Elandsberg Nature Reserve.

Moraea tulbaghensis or neopavonia, with spots, Colin Paterson-JonesMoraea tulbaghensis or neopavonia, possible hybrid with M. villosa, Colin Paterson-Jones

Moraea papilionacea grows on mostly sandstone soils, sometimes granite or clay, in renosterveld and transitional fynbos in the south and southwest Cape. It flowers late winter to spring and is usually hairy with yellow or salmon flowers with yellow nectar guides. Flowers are fugacious. These pictures were taken near Paarl by Bob Rutemoeller September 2003 where there were many different color forms growing in the same location, salmon, yellow, and bicolored.

Moraea papilionacea, Bob RutemoellerMoraea papilionacea, Bob RutemoellerMoraea papilionacea, Bob Rutemoeller

Photo taken of a yellow one at Drayton by Cameron McMaster and photos taken September 2003 near Brackenfell by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner.

Moraea papilionacea, Drayton, Cameron McMasterMoraea papilionacea, Brackenfell, Bob RutemoellerMoraea papilionacea, Brackenfell, Mary Sue Ittner

More photos by Bob Werra.

Moraea papilionacea, Bob WerraMoraea papilionacea, Bob WerraMoraea papilionacea, Bob WerraMoraea papilionacea, Bob Werra

Moraea petricola. Purple flowers with white nectar guides edged in dark purple. The inner tepals have three lobes, the central one long and bent at an angle. Looks similar to M. decipiens, but with several differences in anatomical details. Blooms in spring (October-November) in the mountains north of Parkhuis Pass.


Moraea polyanthos is found growing on flats and lower slopes, mainly clay, in a wide area that can have year round rainfall, winter rainfall, and summer rainfall. Blooming time varies depending on its habitat. Flowers open midday and close as the sun sets. Although individual flowers last only a single day, the plant can have several open at once, and can bloom for a period of several months, making a nice if not spectacular show. In California, when grown with winter water, this is one of the last of the winter rainfall Moraea species to bloom, usually starting in late spring and blooming well into the summer if kept watered. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner and Alan Horstmann.

Moraea polyanthos, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea polyanthos, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea polyanthos, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea polyanthos, Alan Horstmann

Moraea polystachya is a vigorous species from the winter and summer rainfall areas of southern Africa. It is beloved by many members of the PBS mailing list who live in Mediterranean climates, because when happy it produces large numbers of short-lived flowers over a long period from fall to early winter, a time when most other Moraeas are barely putting up leaves. Unfortunately it's not as successful in very cold climates or those with year-round rain. If you're growing this species in captivity, keep it dry at the start of summer but start watering it in mid-summer to get the longest bloom period (see cultural notes below). This species is reportedly poisonous to livestock, so be careful not to let it escape into the wild (more information here). The first photo was taken by Sheila Burrow, the second by Bill Dijk, the third by Bob Rutemoeller, and the fourth taken in habitat in the Eastern Cape by Cameron McMaster. The fifth and sixth were taken by Michael Mace. The fifth shows subtle variations in flower shape and nectar guide color.

Moraea polystachya, Sheila BurrowMoraea polystachya, Bill DijkMoraea polystachya, Bob RutemoellerMoraea polystachya, Cameron McMasterMoraea polystachya, Michael MaceMoraea polystachya closeup, Michael Mace

Some growers report considerable success with this species, while others report that it is very inconsistent, blooming well one year and not at all the next. Part of the problem may be that it grows in dry areas scattered across much of South Africa and Namibia, according to Goldblatt's The Moraeas of Southern Africa. So different plants may come from very different climates. The species is typically treated like other winter-growing bulbs, but Goldblatt says that most of its habitat is outside the winter-rain area. Some PBS members report that it grows much more vigorously if given water starting in mid-summer (early August in the northern hemisphere), a watering schedule that would rot many summer-dormant bulbs. With August watering, it can start blooming in October and continue into February, if frost doesn't cut it down. If watering starts in October, the typical start time for a winter-growing bulb, Moraea polystachya will not start blooming until January, and may not bloom at all.

In California, M. polystachya is visited by honeybees with an almost disturbing intensity. There appears to be nectar at the base of the tepals, and the bees shove themselves down into the flower to get it. They sometimes emerge from the flowers coated liberally in pollen. As a result of all this attention, the plants will set copious amounts of seed if allowed to. Removing seed pods before they ripen seems to extend the bloom period. The sequence of photos below shows a honeybee in California, its legs already loaded with Moraea pollen, forcing its way into an unopened bud of M. polystachya.

Moraea polystachya bee assault, Michael MaceMoraea polystachya bee assault, Michael MaceMoraea polystachya bee assault, Michael Mace

The nectar can also attract Argentine ants in California, which then encourage aphids on the flowers and leaves. It's best to spray the ants and aphids when they start to appear, or they will build up rapidly.

Seeds from Michael Mace via PBS BX295 germinated by M. Gastil-Buhl with warm day / cold night treatment as early as 14 days (only 2 of about 60). Seedlings grew to over 4 cm in their first 2 weeks, in sterile potting soil with Sphagnum moss and 1 tbsp compost tea after their first week. Corms grown from those same seedlings, in photo 4 on a 1 cm grid, were found below 9 cm (3.5 inches) depth growing in a raised box. Note one corm has sprouted. Another seedling from that same lot first bloomed two years from the date sown, shown in photo 5 growing in a 5 inch tall pot. The bloom stalk bends at angles as each bud opens, as shown in photo 6.

Moraea polystachya germination, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea polystachya germination, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea polystachya germination, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea polystachya corms, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea polystachya, M. Gastil-BuhlMoraea polystachya, M. Gastil-Buhl

Seed photo from David Pilling.

Moraea polystachya, David Pilling

Moraea pseudospicata is found on stony clay slopes in karroid scrub in the Bokkeveld Plateau. It has a long since trailing leaf, often dry at flowering. The stem gets about 40-50 cm tall and the flower is only about 20 mm across. Photo by Andrew Harvie who has seen this flowering only twice in 12 years (6 years apart) he has been growing it. It flowers in mid summer after it has gone dormant. He speculates being late in covering up his winter rainfall bulbs and summer rain helped bring it into bloom in 2012.

Moraea pseudospicata, Andrew Harvie

Moraea pubiflora is a summer-growing species native to Swaziland and the eastern Transvaal, where it grows in mountain grassland. The flowers are white to pale blue, and have unusually long, speckled inner tepals. Photograph by K Braun for the Swaziland National Trust Commission.

Moraea pubiflora, K Braun

Moraea ramosissima grows on damp sandy or stony flats and slopes from the Gifberg to the Eastern Cape. It is a tall plant with yellow flowers that blooms spring into summer. Deemed a shy bloomer, it appeas to be a plant that responds to fire. The first photo below by Mary Sue Ittner shows leaves appearing after a fire near Bainskloof where there were no signs of this plant in previous years. The second photo by Rachel Saunders shows it blooming in profusion in Bainskloof November 2012 in another year after another fire. The last photo from Cameron McMaster taken near Napier in the Overberg shows the flower.

Moraea ramosissima leaves, Mary Sue IttnerMoraea ramosissima, Bainskloof, Rachel SaundersMoraea ramosissima flower, Cameron McMaster

Moraea regalis is a striking purple flower with a tiny white nectar guide and elongated crests and inner tepals that look a bit like purple antlers. It's known from a single site on a south-facing rocky slope near the town of De Rust in the Little Karoo. The habitat is reportedly in degraded condition. This species blooms in spring, and is probably related to M. unguiculata and M. algoensis. We're not aware of any reports that it's being grown in cultivation, but if you're lucky enough to obtain it, note that its native climate is a near-desert with almost year-round rainfall. The area may get a brief day spell in mid-summer for a month or two, but otherwise rainfall is consistent and relatively light throughout the year. A photo of the flower can be seen here.


Moraea reticulata has a solitary habit (not clumping like some of the other yellow summer rainfall species.) It has a fibrous network like a fishnet enclosing the base of the stem and bracts. The flowers are bright yellow with orange nectar guides and a few darker veins on the outer tepals. Described first in 1973, it is an Eastern Cape species where it occurs on steep grassy slopes. Photos by Cameron McMaster showing a habitat shot and a close-up of the flower.

Moraea reticulata, Mt. Thomas, Cameron McMasterMoraea reticulata, Cameron McMaster

Moraea rivulicola Cream, greenish, or beige flowers with dull yellow nectar guides. Grows in seasonal stream beds and drainage ditches in the extremely dry winter-rainfall desert of northern Namaqualand, west of the town of Springbok. Blooms in spring. The flowers look similar to M. unguiculata, but are larger, and the plants grow in wetter areas. You can see the herbarium sheet here.


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 S - Moraea group T - Moraea group U-V - Moraea hybrids - Moraea index


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Page last modified on February 28, 2014, at 02:54 PM