Watsonia is a genus in the Iridaceae family of over 50 species from both the winter and summer rainfall areas. Many are quite tall with fans of sword-shaped leaves and showy flowers.
Watsonia species G-M are found on this page.
Watsonia galpinii L.Bolus is a rare species found in wet sites along streams in the southern Cape. It grows 1.2 to 2 meters and has an unusually short perianth tube. It has red-orange or mauve-pink flowers and blooms from January to April in the wild.
Watsonia gladioloides Schlechter grows in rocky grassland in mountains from the Eastern Cape province to Swaziland. It has dark red flowers in a closely packed unbranched inflorescence. It blooms September to January. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster February 2008 at Aurora Peak, Maclear.
Watsonia humilis Miller, syn. Watsonia roseoalba (Jacquin) Ker is another one of the dwarf Watsonias (dwarf compared to some of the very tall ones.) It has pink to white flowers and blooms in late spring. It grows on sandstone or granite flats in the Southwest Cape. The large leaf in the second picture belows to Wastsonia marginata. The pink form, once known as Watsonia roseoalba is now considered to be this species. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner.
Watsonia knysnana L.Bolus is found on sandstone slopes and flats, especially at forest edges in the Eastern Cape. It is tall with sword-shaped leaves in a fan and red, purple or pink flowers in a wide tube. It flowers late spring to summer. Photo #1 by Cameron McMaster at Tsitsikamma. Photo 2 taken by Mary Sue Ittner at Gaika's Kop of a plant that could be this species. Photos 3-6 from Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner were taken in a grassy field in the Eastern Cape of plants that could be this species.
It is closely related to the bright orange flowered Watsonia pillansii and the two are difficult to tell apart. When found in the same range a series of intermediates can be found. These are hybrids with variability of bract length and flower color from cream to pale pink to red or maroon. Plants seen January 2010 and photographed by Mary Sue Ittner near Hogsback on Gaika's Kop could be either Watsonia pillansii or this species or intermediates between the two.
Watsonia laccata(Jacquin) Ker Gawler is a smaller Watsonia with pink, purple, orange or white flowers found on sandstone slopes in fynbos in winter rainfall areas. The three photos were taken in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster.
Watsonia latifolia N.E.Brown ex Obermeyer grows in high altitude grassland in thin rocky soil or around granite outcrops in the summe rainfall areas of the Transvaal, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal. Plants grow from .7 to 1.5 meters high and have broad leaves, usually about 5 to 6 cm. wide and long tubed dark red to maroon flowers. Photo by Rod Saunders.
Watsonia marginata (Linnaeus fil.) Ker Gawler can be a very tall species with leaves that have thickened margins, hence the name. It grows on sandy and granitic soils in the Northwest and Southwest Cape and flowers late spring. It has pink, occasionally white or purple flowers. Since it is hard to get the whole plant in a picture since it is tall and still have detail the first three photos by Mary Sue Ittner show the leaves and beginning of the flower stalk, then the lower flowers on the stalk with a pollinator and finally a rather large corm. The corm is on a grid of 1 cm squares. The fourth photo was taken by Alan Horstmann. The last two photos were taken near Tulbagh by Andrew Harvie.
Watsonia meriana (Linnaeus) Miller is found on sandy or granitic soils, often in marshes or along streambanks, from Namaqualand to Bredasdorp.
Watsonia meriana var. bulbillifera (J.W.Mathews & L.Bolus) D.A.Cooke produces bulbils in the leaf axis and in the right climate can become a big pest as it has in coastal northern California. The first photo by Bob Rutemoeller shows the drying foliage which makes an ugly and ever extending display along Highway One in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The next two photos were taken of a large stand near Salt Point State Park. The fourth photo show a flower. Bloom time is short. The last photo taken was taken with the bubils formed and still in flower before they go to the dump. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner
Watsonia meriana var. meriana does not produce bubils in the leaf axis. The first photo was taken September 2003 near Caledon by Bob Rutemoeller. The next two were taken in Namaqualand by Mary Sue Ittner. The final two photos were taken by Andrew Harvie in the southwestern Cape.