Lachenalia aloides

Mary Sue Ittner via pbs
Mon, 22 Mar 2021 15:29:28 PDT
The most recent attachments from Shmuel Silinsky and Ottoline Clapham 
illustrate the challenge that all of us have since Graham Duncan decided 
to divide Lachenalia aloides (syn. Lachenalia tricolor) into eight species:
Lachenalia aloides, Lachenalia callista, Lachenalia flava (syn. 
Lachenalia aurea), Lachenalia  luteola , Lachenalia patentissima, 
Lachenalia quadricolor, Lachenalia thunbergii and Lachenalia vanzyliae

Many sources are probably going by old names and the distinctions 
between the the species are often not very clear from my perspective. 
Add to that how different  the plants look at different stages. I've 
decided that I probably have a lot of L. quadricolor even though some 
plants flowered first in January and some are just now coming into 
flower. I'm attaching three photos of the one starting to flower in 
January at different stages to show my point.

A number of years ago Mike Mace did a wonderful wiki page to help figure 
out what was called the Moraea tripetala complex when that species was 
divided into 9 species and 3 varieties.…

This probably needs to be done for Lachenalia aloides. I started writing 
down the differences, but it was a frustrating  project as Graham's book 
didn't make it easy if you looked at his descriptions, paintings, and 
photographs and I never finished. Looking at his key makes it a little 
easier so maybe one of these days I'll work on making a wiki page with 
the differences. The challenge is that most of the photos were added to 
the wiki when they were all L. aloides and you can't measure the size of 
inner and outer tepals in a photo so that makes it hard to choose photos 
to illustrate the different species.

L. patentissima has one leaf, a widely spreading perianth, bright yellow 
outer tepals. All the others have two leaves.

L. vanzyliae is easy as it has translucent white inner tepals and bright 
green median keels (some of us would call it turquoise).

So that leaves six.

L. luteola has inner tepals 14-20 mm, that are greenish yellow to bright 
yellow, or reddish orange above

The rest have inner tepals 23 mm or longer and bright yellow or greenish 
yellow inner tepals

L. flava has a purple scape, golden yellow or orange inner tepals (the 
description of this species also says the scape can be light green with 
purple blotches)

The last four have a green, plain or with brownish purple blotches 
scape. For them you have to measure (note-depending on when you measure, 
the measurements could be different):

L. aloides - outer tepals 15 to 17 mm long, apices red or purplish red
L. quadricolor - outer tepals 10-11 mm long, apices purplish magenta 
(note-the difference between purplish red and magenta might be a 
subjective call)

L. callista inner tepals 32-33 mm long, apices widely spreading
L. thunbergii- inner tepals 23-24 mm long, apices slightly spreading

Hopefully this will help you figure out what you have. It looks like the 
scape in one of Shumuel's photos is purple, but the description of flava 
is of more uniformly colored flowers than his flowers are and the ones 
I've grown that I think are that species are all the same color as are 
the ones illustrated in the book. Depending on the source of plants, all 
of us could be growing hybrids. Lumpers may wish to call the ones that 
can't be figured out Lachenalia aloides complex.

Mary Sue

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