Brunsvigia grandiflora

Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 08 Jul 2008 07:54:43 PDT

I suspect Brunsvigia grandiflora is one of those plants that may behave 
differently depending on where the seed comes from and how they are grown. 
Quoting Dirk Wallace from Australia: "The variation in a species can be 
immense, and there is no hard and fast rule to cover all the different 
forms of a particular species.
Many factors are involved, especially where the collection comes from, and 
what climate you are putting it into."
  I saved these notes from Greg Pettit from 1999:
"Brunsvigia grandiflora is found in Southern Natal towards the mountains. 
At Kokstad a large colony existed (decimated for indigenous medicine?).
These bulbs were in a heavy black clay and were buried almost up to the 
necks.  This species has a very close resemblance to Boophone disticha and
is often found at the local "medicine" market in and amongst Boophone.   It 
will not tolerate the high humidity of Durban so my attempts at rescuing
some have proved fruitless.

There is another colony of B. grandiflora growing on the foothills of the 
Southern Drakensberg which are at least 200mm in diameter and are 2/3
exposed above the ground.   They are subjected to heavy frosts and 
snowfalls in winter and although I did not see them in flower (only in a 
light snow),
I am sure that the pink display would be impressive."

On the other hand Dirk's plants had a cycle of growing  through 
Autumn/Winter/Spring and going  dormant in late Spring through Summer. He 
kept his with his rainlily collection and watered them while dormant in 
summer every couple of days.

I received seeds of this species from the Huntington Gardens in Southern 
California in February 2000. I forgot they were supposed to be a summer 
rainfall and treated them as a winter rainfall species and was horrified 
when I was potting them one year to realize that I had been treating them 
as a winter rainfall species. Then Rhoda wrote that this species in the 
Stutterheim region of the Eastern Cape had leaves appearing in late summer 
to early fall and growing into winter when they dried up. I started giving 
mine a bit of water during dormancy, probably not as much as Dirk, but 
watering when I think about it. I planted them in a large pot and submerged 
it in the ground and let it get rained on during winter. In the ground in a 
large pot the soil probably doesn't dry out so much either and since I have 
it nestled in another pot it is harder for the redwood roots to get into 
the pot and suck up the moisture. Last year it finally bloomed,  seven 
years from sowing and the last of the leaves has just dried up. New leaves 
usually appear in August or September so it isn't without leaves very long 
for me.  It bloomed in November and December which is not the time of year 
it is supposed to bloom according to others (mid to late summer). Also 
Rhoda said it blooms with the leaves which obviously was not how it was 
supposed to bloom. I love the undulating leaves of the form I am growing 
and when it was blooming it got multiple compliments, perhaps partly since 
it was a time of year not a lot was in bloom in my garden.…
Mine is the 2nd picture in the group, but there are also habitat pictures 
from Cameron.

Rhoda and Cameron gave away seeds of this plant to our group in 2004. Any 
of you wish to report how your plants are doing?

Mary Sue

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