Southern African Gladiolus One

There are about 163 species of Gladiolus (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 A-B are pictured on this page.


Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus Ca - Southern African gladiolus Ce-E - Southern African gladiolus F-H - 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 abbreviatus Andrews (syn. Homoglossum abbreviatum) is an odd species with grossly unequal dark red to brown tepals. It is pollinated by sunbirds and occurs in the southwestern Cape where it is found in clay and shale banks in renosterveld. Although in the book above it is described as usually having 4 to 6 flowers my plants grown from seed only have a couple and ones seen in the wild also did not have very many flowers. The first photo was taken by Mary Sue Ittner of seed grown plants and the last three in habitat by Cameron McMaster near Napier in the Overberg.

Gladiolus abbreviatus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus abbreviatus, Cameron McMasterGladiolus abbreviatus, Cameron McMasterGladiolus abbreviatus, Cameron McMaster


Gladiolus acuminatus F.Bolus is an endangered species known from no more than five locations. It is endemic to the Overberg, where it grows in stony shale on flats and in renosterveld. It has a long perianth tube and pale greenish cream fragrant flowers. Photo by Alan Horstmann.

Gladiolus acuminatus, Alan Horstmann


Gladiolus alatus L. is a winter rainfall species found on flats, slopes, and plateaus, mainly in sand. The flowers are orange, marked yellow and has a light and pleasant scent. Photo 1 was taken near Paarl September 2003 by Bob Rutemoeller. The next two pictures were taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner near Bainskloof September 2006.

Gladiolus alatus, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus alatus, Bainskloof, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus alatus, Mary Sue Ittner

The white form seen near Villiersdorp. Photo by Mary Sue Ittner. The second photo by Bob Rutemoeller shows one for sale in a nursery in Caledon.

Gladiolus alatus white, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus alatus white, Bob Rutemoeller

The photos below are of plants in cultivation. Photo 1 by Mary Sue Ittner shows flowers on a plant grown from seed blooming March 2005. Photos 2-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 5 show seeds on a 1 cm square grid.

Gladiolus alatus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus alatus, Nhu NguyenGladiolus alatus, Nhu NguyenGladiolus alatus, Nhu NguyenGladiolus alatus, seeds, Nhu Nguyen


Gladiolus albens Goldblatt & J.C.Manning, syn. Gladiolus maculatus Sweet ssp. eburneus Oberm., is a narrow endemic of the Eastern Cape where it is found on grassy slopes and in fynbos type vegetation on light well drained soils. Although it grows primarily in a summer rainfall zone, the area where it grows does get some winter rainfall and this species flowers in the fall in April and May and has its main growth in winter after flowering. Plants are generally 25 to 50 cm high and the flowering spike has 1 to 3, rarely to 5, flowers. Flowers are white to cream, sometimes with faint speckles or streaks in the throat or all over the tepals, with a long slender perianth tube (35-50 mm) that expands in the upper part and have a dusty sweet scent. Photos taken by Rachel Saunders in the Eastern Cape.

Gladiolus albens, Rachel SaundersGladiolus albens, Rachel SaundersGladiolus albens, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus angustus L. is found in wet places on sandstone soils in the northwest and southwest Cape. It blooms in spring with cream to pale pink flowers with reddish diamond-shaped markings on the lower tepals. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner. Some of the plants I grow have no markings, some light markings, and some deep markings.

Gladiolus angustus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus angustus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus angustus, Mary Sue Ittner


Gladiolus antholyzoides Baker is distributed across the central and eastern high veld of South Africa. Flowers are yellow, sometimes streaked with red or orange and with an orange ring around the throat. This species was once included in Antholyza as Antholyza laxiflora and Antholyza schlechteri, presumably because of its long perianth tube. It has also had other Gladiolus species names.


Gladiolus aquamontanus Goldblatt is a local endemic found on streams and wet cliffs in the Swartberg Mountains in the Western Cape. A winter rainfall plant, it grows from 40 to 100 cm and has sword-shaped leaves with lightly thickened margins and midribs. The mauve pink flowers are in a 4 to 8 flowered spike. The lower three tepals have a dark purple median streak in the lower two thirds. Flowers are unscented and bloom time is late spring to summer. One of the pbs list members who grows it has found that it never wants to be completely dry. Photo from Rod Saunders.

Gladiolus aquamontanus, Rod Saunders


Gladiolus arcuatus Klatt grows in the dry western part of the winter rainfall area of South Africa. In Namaqualand this species grows among low shrubs in granite derived gravel and in fine grained silt in areas to the south. It has flowers that are dull grey purple, brownish or dark purple, with the lower three tepals yellow in the lower two thirds with the distal third dark purple fading to light grey purple. The dorsal tepal is largest, horizontal and arching forward. Flowers are very fragrant and probably pollinated by long tongued bees. The first photo below could be this species. It was seen in early September 2006 in Namaqualand in the right habitat. The second photo taken earlier that year was taken at Rod and Rachel Saunders' property at Brackenfell. They often sprinkle seed about. I think it also could be this species. Photos 1-2 taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo #3 taken by Rod Saunders.

Gladiolus arcuatus?, Namaqualand, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus arcuatus?, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus arcuatus, Rod Saunders


Gladiolus aureus Baker is endangered. It is found in the wild today in only a single location, a peaty seep on a rocky sandstone slope in the Southwest Cape. There are reportedly as few as ten plants remaining at this location. It has bright yellow flowers. The first photo was taken by Rachel Saunders August 2012 at its only known locality. There were five flowering plants surrounded by alien vegetation, houses and destruction. Photos 2-4 were taken by Bob Werra and the last photo by Michael Mace.

Gladiolus aureus, Rachel SaundersGladiolus aureus, Bob WerraGladiolus aureus, Bob WerraGladiolus aureus, Bob WerraGladiolus aureus, Michael Mace


Gladiolus bilineatus G.J.Lewis grows in clay and loamy sand in the fynbos in the Langeberg Center (Southern Cape.) Growing from 20 to 40 cm and flowering March-April, this species has short sword shaped leaves and cream to pink flowers with reddish lines near the base of the lower tepals in a one to three flowered spike. Photos taken March 2016 near Swellendam by Rachel Saunders.

Gladiolus bilineatus, Rachel SaundersGladiolus bilineatus, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus blandus Aiton see Gladiolus carneus


Gladiolus blommesteinii L.Bolus is found on sandstone slopes in fynbos in the southwest Cape. It blooms August to October and grows from 30 to 60 cm high. Flowers are in a one to four flowered inclined spike, mauve or pink with dark longitudinal streaks on the lower tepals. Photo taken in habitat by Rachel Saunders.

Gladiolus blommesteinii, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus bonaspei Goldblatt & De Vos (as Gladiolus bonaespei) is a species that has had many different names with a new one expected shortly. Although Kew spells the species name Gladiolus bonaespei which is the spelling used when it was named, Goldblatt and Manning in Gladiolus in Southern Africa corrected the spelling to Gladiolus bonaspei. Other synonyms are Homoglossum merianellum (Thunb.) Baker, Homoglossum merianellum (Thunb.) Baker var. aureum G.J.Lewis, and Petamenes pilosus (Klatt) Goldblatt. It has also been known as Watsonia pilosa. According to John Manning the name is soon to change back to Gladiolus merianellus (L.) Thunb. The name is for [Cape] of Good Hope. This species grows on sandy flats and slopes in the Southwest Cape. It has 2 to 7 orange, rarely yellow flowers. Flowers held up very well during a wet period in February when they bloomed and over the course of the blooming period the color changed slightly from all orange to orange with yellow tones. The first three photos are by Mary Sue Ittner and the following two are by Dylan Hannon of the first flowering of his seed-grown plants 10 years after sowing.

Gladiolus bonaspei, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus bonaspei, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus bonaspei, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus bonaspei, Dylan HannonGladiolus bonaspei, Dylan Hannon


Gladiolus brevifolius Jacq. blooms in fall before producing leaves and has small pink, gray or brownish flowers with yellow markings on the lower tepals. It is found on sandstone and shale slopes in the north and south western Cape. The first two photos of garden grown plants by Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller. The last picture was taken near Napier in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster.

Gladiolus brevifolius, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus brevifolius, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus brevifolius, Cameron McMaster


Gladiolus brevitubus G.J.Lewis grows on rocky sandstone slopes in the Southwestern Cape and flowers in spring. Plants grow from 12 to 35 cm high. Flowers are unusual, resembling a Tritonia, orange with yellow markings at the base of the lower tepals. Leaves are linear with lightly thickened margins and midribs. The photo was taken December 2013 by Rachel Saunders on steep slopes in the mountains near Hermanus.

Gladiolus brevitubus, Hermanus, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus buckerveldii (L.Bolus) Goldblatt is a species restricted to a few sites along permanent rivers in the northern Cederberg of the western Cape. Plants grow out of nearly vertical moss covered cliffs. Growing from 80 to 125 cm, it has a horizontal spike of 12 to 20 ivory to greenish cream flowers, each with a spade or heart shaped dark red mark in the center of the lower tepals. It flowers in summer. In the past it was included in Antholyza as Antholyza buckerveldii because of its elongate floral tube (wide and cylindric above and slender below) and then was moved to Petamenes. In 1971 it was included in Gladiolus. Photos taken January 2014 by Rachel Saunders. It was growing on a cliff next to a waterfall.

Gladiolus buckerveldii, Cederberg, Rachel SaundersGladiolus buckerveldii, Cederberg, Rachel Saunders


Gladiolus bullatus Thunb. ex G.J.Lewis is found on sandstone slopes in fynbos in the southwest Cape and the Agulhas plain. This species is reported to be difficult in cultivation. It has bell-like blue flowers with yellow markings and is hooded. The first photo by Bob Rutemoeller was taken at Boskloof, the second and third by Cameron McMaster in the Overberg, and the last a close-up from Alan Horstmann.

Gladiolus bullatus, Boskloof, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus bullatus, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus bullatus, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus bullatus, Alan Horstmann


Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus Ca - Southern African gladiolus Ce-E - Southern African gladiolus F-H - 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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