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 Pe-R are pictured on this page.
Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus A-B - 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 S-T - Southern African gladiolus U-Z - Gladiolus Hybrids - Miscellaneous gladiolus
Gladiolus permeabilis D.Delaroche grows on shale slopes in renosterveld from Caledon east through southern Africa and to Zimbabwe. In the Cape province it blooms late winter into spring. It has mauve to dull purple or cream flowers with yellowish makings and is usually intensely fragrant. The first photo was taken by Cameron McMaster in the Overberg and the second by Bob Rutemoeller in the Bontebok National Park
Gladiolus permeabilis ssp. edulis (Burch. ex Ker Gawl.) Oberm., syn. Gladiolus edulis, is widespread across the summer-rainfall zone and is common in the drier areas. This subspecies has whitish to cream, sometimes grey or mauve flowers. All of the tepals except for the dorsal have a grey to purple or maroon midline sometimes surrounded by a yellow streak. The lower lateral tepals are yellow in the upper half. Tepals have an elongated and tapering tip or tail-like twisted and undulate appendages. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster in two locations in the Eastern Cape.
Gladiolus phoenix Goldblatt & J.C.Manning is a rare local endemic restricted to moist backs and ravines in the Bain's Kloof Mountains. This plant appears to need fire to stimulate bloom. Flowers are pink with a white spear shaped mark outlined in deep pink on the lower three tepals. The first photo by Alan Horstmann. The next two were taken by Rachel Saunders post fire near Bainskloof, November 2015.
Gladiolus priorii (N.E.Br.) Goldblatt & M.P.de Vos (syn. Homoglossum priorii) is a fall blooming species found on sandstone and granite slopes in the southwest Cape. It is relatively easy to grow in captivity, and has one to four tubular red flowers with yellow throats. They droop slightly, making it hard to see the centers unless you crouch down. This one is growing in the ground in northern California and has bloomed the last two years in November. The first photo below was taken by Bob Rutemoeller and the second in the summer hemisphere by Bill Dijk. The third was taken by Cameron McMaster, and the fourth by Michael Mace. The last photo was taken by Rachel Saunders June 2011 of this species blooming on Table Mountain in the southwestern Cape in an area that had previously burned.
Gladiolus pritzelii Diels is found on rocky sandstone slopes in the northwest Cape. It has bell-like yellow fowers with red to brown transverse markings on the lower tepals. The first photo was taken by Cameron McMaster on Ouberg Road in the Roggeveld, the second by Rod Saunders from Silverhill Seeds. The flowers have a mild scent of green apples.
Gladiolus pubigerus G.J.Lewis syn. Gladiolus pugioniformis has a strange distribution pattern. It is found in the Eastern Cape and in some areas of Natal, and then in the mountains of Mpumalanga. It has pale lemon yellow flowers tinged with green and flowers in spring. The plants in Mpumalanga are a bit different to those in the Eastern Cape. It flowers well after a fire and not as well in between. The first two photos were taken by Cameron McMaster. The last photo was taken by Rachel Saunders September 2014 in habitat in Mpumalanga near Lydenburg, at an altitude of about 1800 m. It was flowering in a fire break around a pine plantation which was burned sometime in the winter. The area had a small amount of rain in August, and this was obviously enough to stimulate a few plants to flower.
Gladiolus pulcherrimus (G.J.Lewis) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning has very striking orange to salmon flowers that are similar to Gladiolus alatus but is distinguished by broad sword shaped leaves that lack prominent veins. It grow in the northwest Cape on sandstone slopes. This one, grown by Gordon Summerfield in South Africa, was blooming September 2003. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Alan Horstmann.
Gladiolus quadrangularis (Burm.f.) Ker Gawl. (syn. Homoglossum quadrangulare) is found on rocky sandstone slopes in the Northwest Cape. It has 4 to 10 red to orange flowers and blooms late winter into spring. Photos 1-3 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner showing plants that bloomed in Northern California March 2004 and 2007.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen. The seeds are on a 1 cm grid.
Gladiolus quadrangulus (D.Delaroche) Barnard (syn. Ixia linearis, G. linearis, G. biflorus) is found in the southwestern Cape in sandy soil in seasonally wet, poorly drained and sometimes brackish habitat. Goldblatt & Manning report that it has been eliminated from most of its original range, and that "its long-term survival in the wild is unlikely." Fortunately, it is relatively easy to grow in cultivation, where it can be treated like a typical winter-growing Glad. It has pale pink, mauve or white flowers. The tepals have darker veins. It blooms late winter into spring. The shape of the flowers is reminiscent of an Ixia, and unlike most Gladiolus it does not produce nectar. Goldblatt & Manning speculate that it is adapted to pollination by pollen-eating insects. First photo by Alan Horstmann. Second photo by Michael Mace of a plant whose name tag was lost, but which is almost certainly G. quadrangulus. The final photo was taken by Rachel Saunders who photographed it in the wild.
Gladiolus recurvus Linnaeus occurs in shale derived soils from Ceres to Bredasdorp and flowers from June to October depending on the elevation. The fragrant flowers are pale gray to cream, yellowish or pinkish with purple lines and dots on the lower tepals and sometimes spotted or lined in the midline on the upper tepals as well. The first two photos were taken by Cameron McMaster in the Overberg. The other photos by Dirk Wallace show variation in the markings on flowers.
Gladiolus reginae Goldblatt & J.C.Manning is described as very variable in height, and carrying up to 16 flowers per spike. They prefer partial shadow in open woodland areas, where they flower in late summer, but may skip a year if it's too dry. Goldblatt and Manning report that they attract ants with sweet droplets from the tips of the bracts, likely for protection from other insects.
The Photo by Rachel Saunders shows a specimen found in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve (situated in Mpumalanga).
Gladiolus rehmannii Baker is a summer rainfall species that grows in sandy soils, often in rocky ground in light woodland in the northern part of South Africa to eastern Botswana. Growing from 30 to 50 cm, it has white to pale lilac flowers with yellow nectar guides and is unscented. It blooms from mid January to March. Photo from Rod Saunders.
Gladiolus rhodanthus J.C. Manning & Goldblatt is distributed on rocky sandstone slopes at high elevations in the southwest Cape. Growing from 30 to 50 cm, it has hairy linear leaves and pink flowers with red markings on the lower tepals. Photo by Rachel Saunders taken with some effort since it was quite a climb (in light rain/mist) to get to it. It was growing at 1700 m in cracks in the cliffs.
Gladiolus rogersii Baker has blue to purple flowers with yellow or white transverse markings on the lower tepals. It is found on sandstone and limestone slopes in winter and year round rainfall areas and blooms in spring. The first photo by Mary Sue Ittner was taken of a plant growing on a slope east of Swellendam. Most of the flowers had been eaten by an insect. Photos 2-3 taken by Alan Horstmann.
Gladiolus roseovenosus Goldblatt & Manning is a rare winter rainfall species that grows in peaty sandstone soil on well drained slopes in the coastal foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains in the southern Cape. Plants grow 20 to 40 cm high and the long tubed creamy pink unscented flowers with red nectar guides flowers are in a 2 to 4 flowered spike. Blooming time is summer into fall, between February and April. Photos taken by Rachel Saunders.
Gladiolus rudis Licht. ex Roem. & Schult. grows on sandstone slopes in fynbos in the southwestern Cape and blooms in spring. It has 2 to 5 cream to pale pink flowers on a spike. The lower tepals have spear-shaped markings and the perianth tube is funnel shaped. The first three photos taken by Cameron McMaster near Caledon and Fairfield in the Overberg and the last taken by Alan Horstmann.
Gladiolus rufomarginatus G.J.Lewis is a summer-growing species with a narrow distribution in the Lydenburg area of Mpumalanga where it grows in grassland in open or shade on stony shale ground and sometimes in crevices in bare shale outcrops. It has long and slender leaf blades with margins and midrib strongly thickened and raised. Flowers are cream to pale straw and densely speckled with small, dark red spots. Bracts are pale and dry at anthesis and slightly transparent flushed with pink and with rusty brown margins. Photo taken by Rachel Saunders. In habitat it flowers March to April, sometimes in May.
Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus A-B - 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 S-T - Southern African gladiolus U-Z - Gladiolus Hybrids - Miscellaneous gladiolus