Strumaria is a genus of 24 species from southern Africa in the Amaryllidaceae family found in Namibia, South Africa, and Lesotho. Most of them are from the winter rainfall region, but a few extend into the summer rainfall area. Eleven of the species are rare and five endangered. These are often small plants, capable of self fertilization and this may explain their tiny locality ranges. Most of the species grow in winter and are dormant in summer and all will grow in well drained sandy soil in sun. Most flower in autumn, usually before their leaves and seeds are produced a few weeks after flowering. Seeds are recalcitrant; they cannot stop their germination process and germinate immediately after they are released from the capsule, so they fall to the ground and either shrivel up and die if there is no rain, or germinate if there is moisture. Usually they produce a root first, then form a small bulb, and then finally a stem and leaves. The plants grow through the winter and early spring, and go dormant again when the temperature rises and the rains stop. This is a good species to grow in pots and relatively quick to grow from seed in contrast to some of the larger South African Amaryllids. In a pot they probably like a little moisture in summer to prevent their fleshy roots from drying out. For more information see D.A. Snijman's Systematics of Hessea, Strumaria and Carpolyza.
Strumaria aestivalis is endemic to one locality in the foothills northwest of Loeriesfontein. It is summer-flowering (January in habitat) and responds rapidly to scattered thunder-showers. Flowers are produced prior to appearance of leaves. It is most similar to S. pubescens in having extremely pubescent leaves. However, the flowers in this species are more spreading. Photos #1-4 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo #5 was taken by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht.
Strumaria barbarae is native to the Western Cape Province of South Africa and north into southwestern Namibia. It is extremely sensitive to moisture and the leaves tend to rot very easily with excess moisture. The photos below are of plants grown by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht. The photos were taken by Nhu Nguyen.
Strumaria chaplinii is found on granite outcrops in the southwest Cape. It flowers March-April before the leaves. Growing to 20 cm, it has two prostrate elliptical to oblong leaves that are covered with long, soft, erect hairs. The flowers are star shaped, white with red or green midribs. Photo by Hans Joschko.
Strumaria discifera is a species of the northwest Cape and the Roggeveld. It has hairy long, narrow lanceolate leaves usually dry at flowering and star-shaped glistening white flowers with channeled tepals with an olive-green to pink median dorsal stripe on each tepal. It has a bulbiform to discoid swelling at the base of the style. Flowering is in the fall. There are two subspecies.
Strumaria discifera ssp. bulbifera is a clumping subspecies found on slopes and hollows of low exposed dolerite ridges on the Bokkeveld Plateau. It has a disc like swelling around the style with a frilly rim. Photos by Leo Martin added to the Mystery Bulbs page received as another genus, but tentatively identified as this subspecies are pictured below.
Photos below from Mary Sue Ittner taken December 2011.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of a reddish form showing the swelling around the stigma, as well as mature bulbs in a small terracotta pot.
Strumaria discifera ssp. discifera is found on clay flats in the Northwest Cape and the Roggeveld. It is usually found in scattered populations of solitary bulbs. The swelling around the style is smooth. Photo from Hans Joschko.
Strumaria gemmata is the only species in the genus with pale lemon yellow flowers. It is confined to semi-arid regions in the southern, south-eastern and eastern regions of the Cape Province. It has two laves that are usually dry at flowering, recurved to prostrate, softly hairy or rarely smooth. First photo by Diana Chapman. The second photo is a close-up of a single flower, while the third is of the furry foliage - both from Jacob Uluwehi Knecht. The last two photos are from Hans Joschko showing variation in the foliage from different seed sources.
Strumaria karooica is from the Roggeveld where it inhabits flat, clayey sites, usually near rocks. It grows to 20 cm high and has two leaves that are dry at flowering. Flowers are star shaped, pale pink with dark red dorsal midribs on long spreading pedicels. Bloom time is fall. Photos by Diana Chapman and Mary Sue Ittner. The form that Mary Sue grows has suberect leaves even though the ones in the field usually have leaves appressed to the ground. The tepals do not show the undulating edges that Diana's plants have, but do illustrate the deeper pink stripe on the back of the tepals, the darker pink buds and aging flowers, and dark pink to wine red anthers before opening.
Strumaria leipoldtii is found on sandstone rock ledges in loamy soils in the northwest Cape. It grows to 15 cm high and has star shaped white flowers with green or pink midribs on spreading pedicels that are 10 to 20 mm in diameter. Photo by Alessandro Marinello.
Strumaria merxmuelleriana is found in seasonal watercourses in sandy, granite derived soils of the succulent karoo of northern Namaqualand near Springbok and Steinkopf, South Africa. It has pink flowers on stout inflorescences in mid-autumn, followed by very broad, glabrous, ovate, prostrate dark-green leaves with recurved margins which give the leaves a bubble-like shape. Photos by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht.
Strumaria picta is a large species with open bell-shaped white flowers, backed with a wine red stripe and with a deep red scape. It is from the Nieuwoudtville district in the western Cape where it is known from only two farms where it inhabits flats or gentle slopes. Photos by Diana Chapman.
Strumaria prolifera is native to the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. As the name prolifera implies, the bulbs do proliferate, multiplying themselves over the years, much more so than other species in the genus. The leaves are very sensitive to rain and can rot in excess rain of northern California. The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of plants grown by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht, showing various aspects of the plant and flower. One of the photos show a bulb being very eager to bloom even before the root system was well develop.
Strumaria pubescens is native to the Roggeveld where it grows on steep south facing slopes in clayey soil. It is a moderately sized plant with very fuzzy leaves and funnel-shaped flowers. Photo by Nhu Nguyen taken at the UC Botanical Garden.
Strumaria salteri grows in sandstone rock crevices in the northwest Cape. Growing to 25 cm, it has prostrate strap shaped to elliptical leaves with minutely fringed margins and glistening pink flowers with reddish pink central bands. It flowers in May before the leaves. Photos from Hans Joschko.
Strumaria spiralis (formerly Carpolyza spiralis) grows in seasonally wet flats and rock crevices from the Cape Peninsula to the Karoo, blooming from May to August. It grows to 15 cm and has one to four small white to pale pink flowers. Photos Alessandro Marinello.
Strumaria tenella is found both in winter and summer rainfall areas. It is a small plant with star shaped white to pink flowers. It is separated from all other species of Strumaria by flowering synchronously with its filiform leaves. There are two subspecies:
Strumaria tenella ssp. orientalis has white flowers and blooms in the fall and is found only in dolerite outcrops in the southeastern Free State and Lesotho. It is locally abundant. The spathe valves are green, turning brown. Anthers are green. Lower 2/3 of style swollen. Photos 1-3 below from Rob Hamilton of the first flowering in March 2005 from seed sowed June 2003. It has never gone dormant in this period. The early flowering habit and the dome shaped style as seen on the right hand flower of the first image, suggest that this is ssp. orientalis; however, the spathe valve and anther color suggest that it is ssp. tenella. In the third picture it is already setting seed. The last two photos were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Plants were grown from seed furnished by Rob. The color of the anthers does not fit the description in Snijiman's book, but the bloom time is correct, the spathe valve was green, and the style corresponds more closely to the drawings in her book for this subspecies.
Strumaria tenella ssp. tenella has white to pink flowers and is found in seasonally damp flats in a number of the winter rainfall areas of South Africa. It blooms April-July in the wild (the equivalent blooming season would be October-January in the northern hemisphere). The spathe valves are pink, turning brown. Anthers are wine-red. Styles are swollen into an irregular hexahedron. Photo #1 was taken in 2006 by Lee Poulsen. This is its first bloom from seeds obtained from Silverhill Seeds and planted in the fall of 2002. It is tiny--tinier than I was expecting. I almost didn't notice it was blooming. It is still in the 4-inch square container I started the seeds in and the label in the background is 1/2-inch X 4 inches in size. But it sure is a pretty little flower. Photo #2 was taken by Nhu Nguyen showing the typical style of this subspecies.
Strumaria truncata is found on stony or loamy flats in dry parts of the winter rainfall area of South Africa, Namaqualand to Bokkeveld Plateau and western Karoo. The white to deep pink scented flowers hang down in a cluster and often form huge colonies and are impressive in flower. The bulbs can be grown in small pots. Nhu Nguyen grows his in terra cotta pots and a very well drained mix with a bit of slow release fertilizer. The first photo was taken by Cameron McMaster of plants flowering in May 2006. The second photo is from Alan Horstmann. The last photo was taken by Michael Mace of a plant growing in California.
Photos 1-4 were taken by Nhu Nguyen showing the white form of this species. The first two photos are of Nhu's plant. The last two were taken at the UC Botanical Garden showing the whole plant and the fantastic fan-like leaves.