South African Romuleas Five

The pictures below are of Romuleas that are native to South Africa, grown from seed or seen in the wild. Many of the species are very similar and difficult to tell apart. Sometimes it is necessary to examine the bracts and bracteoles and often looking at the corm is very helpful. Photos of the different corms will be added as available.

There are three good references for the southern African species, The Genus Romulea in South Africa written by Miriam de Vos in 1972, her revision written in 1982 and a later revision from John Manning and Peter Goldblatt in 2001.

Species from T to Z are shown on this page.


European And Mediterranean Romuleas - South African Romulea A-D - South African Romulea E-K - South African Romulea L-N - South African Romulea O-S - Romulea index


Romulea tabularis is a winter rainfall species found in moist sandy or limestone flats, often in seasonal pools from Namaqualand to the southern Cape. Photographed by Mark Mazer, Mary Sue Ittner, and Bob Werra.The fourth picture is of the corms on a 1 cm grid. Corms have a crescent-shaped basal ridge. The last two photos from Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner were taken September 2006 on the way to Darling in the southwest Cape of South Africa.

Romulea tabularis, Mark MazerRomulea tabularis, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tabularis, Bob WerraRomulea tabularis corms, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tabularis, Bob RutemoellerRomulea tabularis, Mary Sue Ittner

Romulea tetragona is found in clay soils in dry areas of the winter rainfall Cape and blooms in late winter. The distinctive identifying trait are the leaves which have the lateral ribs reduced and medium ribs widened to form 4 longitudinal wings (the Greek derived name means four angled). The other species showing this trait is Romulea hirta which has different colored flowers. This species is violet-rose to lilac or rarely salmon-pink with a violet or greenish yellow cup and a violet blotch or band in the throat. It is very beautiful. The first photo was taken by Lauw de Jager and the others by Bob Rutemoeller in January 2004. On very cool and overcast days the flowers do not open and you just see the bud. A second view shows the colorful back and the distinctive leaves. And finally there is a day warm enough for several flowers to open (bringing the pot inside to a warm bright spot works too.) Photo 5 from Mary Sue Ittner shows the corms on a 1 cm grid. Corms have a crescent-shaped basal ridge and a tunic that is split into minute parallel fibrils. Photo 6 by David Pilling.

Romulea tetragona, Lauw de JagerRomulea tetragona, Bob RutemoellerRomulea tetragona, Bob RutemoellerRomulea tetragona, Bob RutemoellerRomulea tetragona corms, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tetragona seed, David Pilling

In her book Miriam de Vos recognized two varieties that in later revisions have not been accepted. One of these, var. flavandra, had erect yellow anthers and pollen and was lilac pink or salmon pink and the other, var. tetragona had purple incurved or circinal anthers with reddish-brown or orange pollen and was violet-rose to lilac pink. Photos below taken by Mary Sue Ittner are of plants grown from seed of the flavandra form.

Romulea tetragona, flavandra form, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tetragona back, flavandra form, Mary Sue Ittner

Blooming in habitat near Middelpos in the Roggeveld September 2006. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner

Romulea tetragona, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tetragona, Mary Sue Ittner

Romulea tortuosa grows in sandstone and clay soils and flowers winter into spring. It is scented and has yellow flowers with or without black marks of blotches in the throat and a distinctive corm that is flattened with a wide fan-like basal ridge. Leaves of this species in habitat are sometimes spirally twisted. Photographs by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller in the Komsberg September 2006 and and another seen near Middelpos. The last photo was taken by Cameron McMaster on the Sutherland Road in the Roggeveld September 2011.

Romulea tortuosa, Komsberg, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tortuosa, Komsberg, Bob RutemoellerRomulea tortuosa, Middlepos, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tortuosa, Cameron McMaster

The current trend is not to recognize subspecies, but the variety pictured below (photos by Mary Sue Ittner , Bob Rutemoeller, and Alan Horstmann) was once known as Romulea tortuosa ssp. aurea, formerly described as buttercup-yellow to almost cadmium-orange without dark marks and with the upper part of the segments paler yellow. In northern California it blooms December to January each year.

Romulea tortuosa, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tortuosa, Bob RutemoellerRomulea tortuosa, Alan HorstmannRomulea tortuosa, Alan Horstmann

The form that used to be known as R. tortuosa ssp. tortuosa generally has dark blotches or veins in the throat and sometimes is a darker yellow towards the base. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner of the flowers and the corms that are obliquely flattened with a wide fan-like basal ridge. Corms pictured (one of bottom and one of top or corm) on a 1 cm grid.

Romulea tortuosa, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tortuosa, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea tortuosa corms, Mary Sue Ittner

Romulea toximontana grows in sandy soils in the Northwest Cape and flowers in August. It has cream flowers with a orange-yellow base and cup. Photos by Alan Horstmann.

Romulea toximontana, Alan HorstmannRomulea toximontana, Alan Horstmann

Romulea unifolia is a beautiful orange-red flower with black and yellow blotches within the cup. It grows on dolerite flats in the Roggeveld. Corms are rounded at the base with curved acuminate teeth. The first two photos by Bob Rutemoeller show one being grown by Alan Horstmann in South Africa and and the corms on a 1 cm grid. The small ones are two years from seed and the others blooming size. The last three are photos in habitat taken by Cameron McMaster.

Romulea unifolia, Bob RutemoellerRomulea unifolia corms, Bob RutemoellerRomulea unifolia, Cameron McMasterRomulea unifolia, Cameron McMasterRomulea unifolia, Cameron McMaster

And still more taken near Middelpos in the Roggeveld in September 2006. The first two by Bob Rutemoeller are a close up of a flower with a pollinator and a picture of the beautiful back markings on the petals and the last one taken at the same time by Mary Sue Ittner shows flowering in habitat with annual daisies. The last picture which we suspect might have been taken at the same time by Alan Horstmann shows this species blooming with Romulea subfistulosa.

Romulea unifolia, Bob RutemoellerRomulea unifolia, Bob RutemoellerRomulea unifolia, Mary Sue IttnerRomulea unifolia and Romulea subfistulosa, Alan Horstmann

Romulea vinacea grows in sandy soils in the Northwest Cape (Pakhuis Pass) and flowers in August. It has pale blue violet flowers opening only for a few hours late in the day. The flowers are marked with violet veins and sometimes violet blotches in the throat. The outer tepals are shiny and plum or wine colored on the back. Photos by Alan Horstmann.

Romulea vinacea, Alan HorstmannRomulea vinacea, Alan Horstmann

European And Mediterranean Romuleas - South African Romulea A-D - South African Romulea E-K - South African Romulea L-N - South African Romulea O-S - Romulea index


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Page last modified on February 18, 2015, at 07:36 AM