Southern African Gladiolus Three

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 Ce-E are pictured on this page.


Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus A-B - Southern African gladiolus Ca - 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 ceresianus L.Bolus grows on stony slopes and flats in clay soil from southern Namaqualand to the western Karoo and in the Roggeveld and Bokkeveld Plateau. It has linear leaves with four longitudinal grooves and one to four flowers in a inclined spike that are brown to purple with dark veining. This plants blooms from August to October in the wild. Photo 1 from Cameron McMaster taken on the Matjiesfontein Sutherland road in the Roggeveld, photo 2 from Alan Horstmann, and photo 3 from Rod Saunders.

Gladiolus ceresianus, Roggeveld, Cameron McMasterGladiolus ceresianus, Alan HorstmannGladiolus ceresianus, Rod Saunders

Gladiolus citrinus Klatt see Gladiolus trichonemifolius


Gladiolus comptonii G.J.Lewis is a rare plant that grows on rocky sandstone slopes in the northwest Cape in a localized area on Heerenlogement Mountain at the northwestern end of the Olifants River Mountains. Plants grow 45 to 60 cm high. The leaves are linear and the few bright yellow short tubed flowers have brown streaks on the lower tepals. This species flowers mid to late July (winter). Photo taken by Rachel Saunders.

Gladiolus comptonii, Rachel Saunders

Gladiolus crassifolius Baker (syn. G. rachidiflorus, G. thomsonii, G. masukuensis, G. mosambicensis, G. tritoniiformis, G. junodii, G. coranthii, G. gazensis, G. dieterlenii) is a widespread species of eastern southern Africa. It is found also in tropical Africa. Plants in southern Africa usually grow in hilly country in well-drained rocky grassland habitats and bloom late summer. Plants in tropical Africa bloom earlier before the new season’s leaves have developed. Flowers are borne in a 16 to 22 flowered spike and are usually pale to deep pink or light purple. The lower lateral tepals have a dark band of color across the lower half of the limbs. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster at Maclear and Sentinel Peak in the Eastern Cape in 2008.

Gladiolus crassifolius, Maclear, Cameron McMasterGladiolus crassifolius, Maclear, Cameron McMasterGladiolus crassifolius, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMasterGladiolus crassifolius, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMaster

Gladiolus crispulatus L. Bolus is a rare endemic that is found in the southern Western Cape on south facing slopes between Swellendam and Riversdale. Growing to 30-40 cm, it has four or five superposed leaves, with the midribs lightly thickened and usually paired on one side and single on the other, and deep pink flowers with triangular median streaks and dark spots in the throat. It is similar to Gladiolus oreocharis but has larger flowers and different leaves and to Gladiolus carneus which also has different leaves and tepal markings. If flowers November-December, but usually only in the first several years after a fire so is rarely seen. Photograph from Rachel Saunders taken close to the top of the Langeberg Mountains.

Gladiolus crispulatus, Rachel Saunders

Gladiolus cunonius (Linnaeus) Gaertner (syns. Anomalesia cunonia, Antholyza cunonia) has bright red flowers and blooms in the spring and grows in sandy soils near the coast. The first three photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner and the next three by Cameron McMaster in habitat near Agulhas and Arniston in the Overberg. The last picture shows the seed capsules hanging over the cliff near the ocean.

Gladiolus cunonius, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus cunonius, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus cunonius, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus cunonius, Agulhas, Cameron McMasterGladiolus cunonius, Arniston, Cameron McMasterGladiolus cunonius seed capsules, Cameron McMaster

Gladiolus dalenii Van Geel is a widespread and common species found not only in Southern Africa, but also in other parts of tropical Africa. It has been known by a number of names over the years; there have been 27 synonyms for the tropical Africa and Madagascar forms and 14 more for the southern African forms. The main synonyms for the southern Africa collections have been Gladiolus natalensis and Gladiolus psittacinus. This species blooms at different times of the year depending on the location, but there are probably flowers every month of the year somewhere in its native habitats. Flowers are either red to orange with yellow markings on the lower half of the three lower tepals or yellow to greenish with red to brown streaks on the upper tepals. Although it favors moist habitats and is often found in grassland, it can also be found in dry habitats with only a short wet season. The ones I grew in Northern California lived for a number of years in the garden, dormant during our wet winters, appearing late spring and surviving through the dry summer and blooming in the fall. The flowering stalks were very tall with a number of flowers. Photos one and two of those plants were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo number three by Cameron McMaster shows plants in cultivation and the fourth from Cameron flowering plants in habitat in the Eastern Cape. Photo 5 is another habitat shot taken near Balloch in the Eastern Cape, January 2010 by Bob Rutemoeller. Photo 6 by David Pilling.

Gladiolus dalenii, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus dalenii, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus dalenii, Cameron McMasterGladiolus dalenii, Cameron McMasterGladiolus dalenii, Balloch, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus dalenii seed, David Pilling

The photos below taken by Mary Hunter and Mary Sue Ittner show the first bloom from seed of a yellow form of ssp. dalenii, once known as Gladiolus primulinus blooming in late summer in Northern California.

Gladiolus dalenii, Mary HunterGladiolus dalenii, Mary Sue Ittner

Gladiolus debilis Ker Gawler is found on rocky sandstone slopes in the southwest Cape blooming in spring with white flowers with red markings on the lower tepals. The first photo by Mary Sue Ittner was taken in September 2001 in an area in the southwest Cape that had burned the year previously and the second was taken by Bob Rutemoeller September 2003 at Boskloof. The third was taken by Ragnhild Crawford. Photos four and five taken near Napier in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster. The last photo was taken by Andrew Harvie at Silvermine in Table Mountain National Park.

Gladiolus debilis, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus debilis, Boskloof, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus debilis, Boskloof, Ragnhild CrawfordGladiolus debilis, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus debilis, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus debilis, Silvermine, Andrew Harvie

Gladiolus delpierrei Goldblatt grows on marshy sandstone slopes at 1200 m in the Cederberg Mountains. Growing from 40-45 cm high and blooming December to January, it has yellowish cream flowers with yellow and red marking on the lower tepals. Photo taken January 2014 by Rachel Saunders.

Gladiolus delpierrei, Cederberg, Rachel Saunders

Gladiolus densiflorus Baker is a species found in the lowveld and coast of eastern southern Africa. It grows in open grassland, usually on deep soils in high (summer) rainfall areas. It has small, short tubed, cream, greenish, pink, mauve, slate-grey or occasionally orange flowers that are usually minutely speckled with pink to purple spots. Photo taken by Rod Saunders.

Gladiolus densiflorus, Rod Saunders

Gladiolus deserticola Goldblatt is restricted to the Richtersveld, a mountainous area of northern Namaqualand. Plants grow in sheltered sites, most frequently in clay soils on south-facing slopes protected by rock or shrubs. Flowers are dark blue with a darker line in the midline of the tepals. The lower tepals or the lateral lower tepals are cream edged with purple. Flowers are weakly rose scented. Photo from Rachel Saunders who found a single specimen blooming in July 2011, a bit early for this species that usually blooms mid August to mid September.

Gladiolus deserticola, Richtersveld, Rachel Saunders

Gladiolus ecklonii Lehmann (syn. G. marmoratus, G. inclusus) is widespread in the summer rainfall area where it is found in well watered low grassland. It has flowers that are minutely spotted or dotted pink, red or purple on a white background. The lower tepals are yellow to cream. The flowers may be so evenly covered with uniformly pink or dark red spots that they look that color. From a distance the flowers on my plants looks almost brown. The attractive leaves are bright green in a fan with thickened margins. The species is named after C. F. Ecklon, the plant collector who first sent seeds of it to the Hamburg Botanic Garden. The first two photos are of plants blooming September 2004 in California by Mary Sue Ittner. The third through fifth were taken by Cameron McMaster in the Eastern Cape and the last was taken by Rod Saunders.

Gladiolus ecklonii, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus ecklonii, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus ecklonii, Cameron McMasterGladiolus ecklonii, Sentinel Peak, Cameron McMasterGladiolus ecklonii, Cameron McMasterGladiolus ecklonii, Rod Saunders

Gladiolus edulis Burch. ex Ker Gawler see Gladiolus permeabilis


Gladiolus equitans Thunberg is very similar to Gladiolus alatus but has short, broad leathery leaves with raised margins and grows on rocky hills in Namaqualand. This one was photographed in Namaqualand in August 2001 just after a rain by Mary Sue Ittner. The second photo was taken in about the same place in September 2006 by Bob Rutemoeller, but this time the plants were already in seed. The third picture was taken by Rod Saunders. The fourth and fifth photos were taken in habitat in the Kamiesberg by Andrew Harvie.

Gladiolus equitans, Namaqualand, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus equitans seed, Namaqualand, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus equitans, Rod SaundersGladiolus equitans, Kamiesberg, Andrew HarvieGladiolus equitans, Kamiesberg, Andrew Harvie

Gladiolus exilis G.J.Lewis is a fall-blooming, winter-growing species from the mountains of the western Cape with pale blue and yellow flowers that look similar to Gladiolus gracilis. You can see a photo of it here.


Gladiolus index - Southern African gladiolus A-B - Southern African gladiolus Ca - 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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Page last modified on February 17, 2014, at 06:38 PM