Southern African Gladiolus Four

There are about 163 Gladiolus species (with new ones being discovered) in the area south of the Tropic of Capricorn and including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique. Some are found in winter rainfall areas and some in summer rainfall areas. For more information see Goldblatt and Manning, 1998. Southern African species from F-H are pictured on this page.


Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus A-B - Southern African gladiolus Ca - Southern African gladiolus Ce-E - Southern African gladiolus I-Me -Southern African gladiolus Mi-Pa - Southern African gladiolus Pe-R - Southern African gladiolus S-T - Southern African gladiolus U-Z - Gladiolus Hybrids - Miscellaneous gladiolus


Gladiolus flanaganii Baker grows on the cliffs of the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal which form the border between Lesotho and South Africa. Long ago, plant collectors would risk death to see/collect these plants, thus it has gained the vernacular name "Suicide Lily". In milder climates maritime, it does well in a very well drained mix, full sun, and occasional watering. Water should be given often during hot spells. Keep the bulbs dry during its winter dormancy.

The photos below were taken by Callan Cohen of plants in habitat.

Gladiolus flanaganii in habitat, Callan CohenGladiolus flanaganii in habitat, Callan Cohen

Photographs 1-2 taken by David Victor are of a wild collected material recently given to him by Danish friends. Photo 3-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen who grows this in his Berkeley garden in a 1 gallon pot.

Gladiolus flanaganii, David VictorGladiolus flanaganii, David VictorGladiolus flanaganii, Nhu NguyenGladiolus flanaganii, Nhu NguyenGladiolus flanaganii, Nhu NguyenGladiolus flanaganii, Nhu Nguyen


Gladiolus floribundus Jacq. grows on dry clay, sandy or limestone flats and slopes over a broad area of the winter rainfall Cape. It has white to cream or pinkish flowers with a dark median streak on all of the tepals and blooms in spring. The first two photos taken by Cameron McMaster near Napier in the Overberg. Photos three, four, and five were taken by Andrew Harvie. Photo three was also taken in the Overberg in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The last two were taken on a a rocky ridge top in the Swartberg Mountains.

Gladiolus floribundus, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus floribundus, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus floribundus, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Andrew HarvieGladiolus floribundus, Andrew HarvieGladiolus floribundus, Andrew Harvie


Gladiolus fourcadei (L.Bolus) Goldblatt & M.P.de Vos, syn. Homoglossum fourcadei (L.Bolus) N.E.Br, syn. Antholyza fourcadei L.Bolus, grows in a variety of soils in the Uniondale district of the Southern Cape. It has small, greenish yellow flowers with reddish veins and spots. This species is endangered, and reportedly now grows in only a single location threatened by overgrazing. The first photo was taken by Rod Saunders and the next three by Mary Sue Ittner.

Gladiolus fourcadei, Rod SaundersGladiolus fourcadei, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus fourcadei, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus fourcadei, Mary Sue Ittner


Gladiolus geardii L.Bolus (syn. Gladiolus robustus Goldblatt) is a late spring to summer bloomer found on moist sandstone slopes in the southeastern Cape. In cultivation it is not dormant long. It is hard to photograph if there is light since the dorsal tepal is inclined and casts a shadow on the lower tepals. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The second one was taken early in the morning before the light hit the flowers.

Gladiolus geardii, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus geardii, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus geardii, Mary Sue Ittner


Gladiolus gracilis Jacq. is very similar to Gladiolus caeruleus, but is a bit smaller, has fewer flowers (2 to 5 in a spike), is usually blue to grey, but occasionally pink or yellowish and has dark streaks (instead of spots) on the lower tepals. The lower most tepal is usually longer in this species instead of mostly the same length as the others in G. caeruleus. It is found mostly on clay slopes (or granite) and blooms in winter. The first picture was taken by Mary Sue Ittner March 2004 of flowers grown from Silverhill Seed and the second in 2007 of more seed grown plants, but this time one with pink flowers. The third photo was taken by Bob Werra and the fourth by Alan Horstmann. The fifth and sixth photos taken by M. Gastil-Buhl show seeds from Silverhill Seed dry on a 1 mm grid, then wet.

Gladiolus gracilis , Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus gracilis , Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus gracilis, Bob WerraGladiolus gracilis, Alan HorstmannGladiolus gracilis, M. Gastil-BuhlGladiolus gracilis, M. Gastil-Buhl

The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of a plant from Telos Rare Bulbs.

Gladiolus gracilis, Telos Rare Bulbs, Nhu NguyenGladiolus gracilis, Telos Rare Bulbs, Nhu NguyenGladiolus gracilis, Telos Rare Bulbs, Nhu NguyenGladiolus gracilis, Telos Rare Bulbs, Nhu Nguyen

All of the pictures below were taken by Cameron McMaster near Napier in the Overberg and illustrate the different forms possible.

Gladiolus gracilis , Cameron McMasterGladiolus gracilis , Cameron McMasterGladiolus gracilis , Cameron McMasterGladiolus gracilis , Cameron McMaster


Gladiolus grandiflorus Andrews grows on clay slopes in the renosterveld in areas with winter rainfall and some year round rainfall. Mine, grown from seed, have creamy white flowers marked in red and bloom late April, early May each year. Photos 1-3 by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo 4 taken by Bob Rutemoeller at Bontebok National Park September 2003.

Gladiolus grandiflorus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus grandiflorus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus grandiflorus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus grandiflorus, Bob Rutemoeller


Gladiolus griseus Goldblatt & J.C.Manning grows in calcareous sand and limestone soils right near the sea, all up the southwest coast to Saldanha. The total wild population of this species is estimated to be less than 250 plants. There are 3 to usually 6 to 15 small mauve to grey flowers with a yellow band across the upper third of the lower tepals edged in green and maroon. The dorsal tepal arches over the stamens and the lower narrow tepals are directed forward. The flowers are lightly fragrant and bee pollinated. This species is closely related to Gladiolus carinatus and sometimes difficult to distinguish from it. Bloom time is different as this species blooms earlier in winter (May to July). The flowers are also smaller and unbranched with the upper tepals arched forward and there are usually more flowers on a spike. Photos taken June 2011 by Rachel Saunders on the southwest Coast shows the variation in different plants.

Gladiolus griseus, southwest coast, Rachel SaundersGladiolus griseus, southwest coast, Rachel SaundersGladiolus griseus, southwest coast, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus gueinzii Kunze grows on coastal sand dunes at and above the high tide mark in the southern Cape where it occurs in both the winter and the summer rainfall areas. It produces small cormlets around the base of the buried corm like other species, but also produces a large glossy dark corm that is bouyant in the water and is dispersed to new areas by floating. Growing from 25 to 50 cm high, this species has four to eight mauve flowers with red-purple and white markings on the lower tepals. It flowers in late spring to summer. Photo taken in habitat on the Otter Trail by Andrew Harvie.

Gladiolus gueinzii, Otter Trail, Andrew Harvie


Gladiolus guthriei F.Bolus is a winter-growing species that occurs on rocky sandstone outcrops in the Western Cape. It incorporates plants formerly known as Gladiolus odoratus L.Bolus. It blooms in fall to early winter; April to June in its native range. Plants that will bloom send up a flowering stalk with very short leaf stubs on it. Plants not blooming in that year produce a long leathery leaf. The flowers generally have a pale yellow or straw base color, liberally decorated with mauve or dark magenta streaks and freckles. The result looks fairly dull from a distance, but the flowers reward close examination. They have a sweet scent. First four photos taken in Napier and Villiersdorp in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster. The fourth and fifth photos are of the Gladiolus odoratus form, blooming in December in California by Michael Mace.

Gladiolus guthriei,Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus guthriei, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus guthriei, Villiersdorp, Cameron McMasterGladiolus guthriei, Villiersdorp, Cameron McMasterGladiolus guthriei (formerly G. odoratus), Michael MaceGladiolus guthriei (odoratus) closeup, Michael Mace


Gladiolus hirsutus Jacq. has been described under many different names. For a long time it was confused with Gladiolus caryophyllaceus and in the 1972 revision of this genus was named Gladiolus punctulatus but that name is no longer accepted as the correct name. It is found or rocky sandstone slopes in the winter rainfall areas. It is pink to purple or white with darker streaking on the lower three tepals. The first photo was taken in the southwestern Cape in September 2001 in an area that had burned the year before. The next two were taken in August 2006 near the Du Toit Kloof mountain pass where we saw these blooming down the slope when we stopped to look at the view. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner including a close-up of the latter where holding the flower helped to get the plant in focus because it was so windy.

Gladiolus hirsutus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hirsutus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hirsutus, Du Toit Kloof  mountain pass, Mary Sue Ittner

Photos by Bob Werra and Alan Horstmann of garden plants and more habitat photos from Cameron McMaster from Hermanus and Napier in the Overberg.

Gladiolus hirsutus, Bob WerraGladiolus hirsutus, Alan HorstmannGladiolus hirsutus, Alan HorstmannGladiolus hirsutus, Hermanus, Cameron McMasterGladiolus hirsutus, Napier, Cameron McMaster


Gladiolus hollandii L.Bolus grows on lower slopes of mountains and on granite outcrops, often in well drained gritty soil in light to moderate shade in the eastern southern African lowveld (Northern Province, Mozambique, Swaziland). Plants grow from 0.6-1.2 m and have a multi-flowered spike of 18 to 30 and sometimes more pale pink minutely dotted dark pink unscented flowers with a reddish median streak running the length of the tepals. Flowering time is mid February to April. Photos by Rachel Saunders.

Gladiolus hollandii, Rachel SaundersGladiolus hollandii, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus huttonii (N.E.Br.) Goldblatt & M.P.de Vos syn Homoglossum huttonii N.E.Br is found on sandstone slopes in the southeastern Cape and flowers winter to spring. It has red to orange flowers with the lower tepals sometimes yellow. The first photo was taken by Bob Rutemoeller of a plant grown by Alan Horstmann. The next two pictures were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photos of many interesting hybrids of this species are found on the Gladiolus hybrids wiki page.

Gladiolus huttonii, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus huttonii, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus huttonii, Mary Sue Ittner


Gladiolus hyalinus Jacq. is a wide spread species in the winter-rainfall region where it is found from Namaqualand to the southwestern Cape and in a couple of places in the southern Cape and the Eastern Cape. In the Cape Flora region it is found in transitional fynbos and in Namaqualand on granite derived sand or clay. It flowers from winter into spring depending on the elevation. Flowers are light to reddish brown on a pale cream background. There are dark spots and streaks on the throat. The first five photos taken by Mary Sue Ittner who grew her plants from seed. Photos 4-5 were taken in a later year of flowers that look very different from the flowers of the one that bloomed in the past. The last photo was taken by Andrew Harvie on the R27, near Nieuwoudtville.

Gladiolus hyalinus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hyalinus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hyalinus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hyalinus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hyalinus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus hyalinus, Nieuwoudtville, Andrew Harvie


Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus A-B - Southern African gladiolus Ca - Southern African gladiolus Ce-E - Southern African gladiolus I-Me -Southern African gladiolus Mi-Pa - Southern African gladiolus Pe-R - Southern African gladiolus S-T - Southern African gladiolus U-Z - Gladiolus Hybrids - Miscellaneous gladiolus


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