Androcymbium is a genus in the Colchicaceae family found in Africa and the Mediterranean. The common names for species in the genus are cup-and-saucer and men-in-a-boat. There are about 40 species and 13 of them are in the Cape Floral province. Species in this genus have few erect flowers on short pedicels and are usually in a head overtopped by green or petaloid bracts. Taxonomic changes by Manning, Forest & Vinnersten (2007) suggested that Androcymbium be included in Colchicum and this seems to have been accepted in South Africa. However, inclusion of Androcymbium into the already large genus Colchicum is made for "practical" reasons. The authors state that there were no morphological characters that separated certain groups of Androcymbium found by molecular evidence. Plants of the World Online in 2022 now includes this genus in Colchicum but World Flora Online does not. We await a full revision of the genus Androcymbium and until such a revision occurs, we will keep the genus Androcymbium separated from Colchicum based on their morphological classification.
Androcymbium austrocapense U.Müll.-Doblies & D.Müll.-Doblies (syn. Colchicum austrocapense (U.Müll.-Doblies & D.Müll.-Doblies) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) means from the Southern Cape. It is native to South Africa. Photo by Gottfried Milkuhn.
Androcymbium burchellii Baker (syn. Colchicum coloratum subsp. burchellii (Baker) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is found on stony clay flats in the western Karoo, Bokkeveld Mountains to the Little Karoo. It is a prostrate plant with ovate white to green bracts and creamy white flowers sometimes tinged with red July to September. The first one was photographed on the road to Middlepos August 2001 by Mary Sue Ittner and the next two in the Roggeveld September 2006 by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The last photo was taken by Alan Horstmann.
These photos by Mary Sue Ittner show plants grown from seed and blooming in Northern California for the first time in December 2003. There are three views, one of the plants in a pot, one looking down on the flowers, and the third a close-up showing the bracts and the stamens. It most closely resembles Androcymbium latifolium in the key in The Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs but Julian Slade thinks it may be a hybrid with it and another species. Since that species is now included in Androcymbium burchellii which looks similar except for the color of the bracts, perhaps this is the logical place to add it. A final photo taken when dormant shows the corms. This plant has not liked the wet humid coastal Northern California winters.
Androcymbium capense (L.) Druce (syn. Colchicum capense ssp. capense (L.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is a stemless plant found on clay or loam flats from Namaqualand to the western Karoo and Swellendam, South Africa. Flowers are enclosed in large white bracts, sometimes striped green. Photo 1 was taken by Rod Saunders and photo 2 was taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of a plant in cultivation.
Androcymbium ciliolatum Schltr. & Krause (syn. Colchicum capense subsp. ciliolatum (Schltr. & K. Krause) J.C. Manning & Vinn.) is found throughout Namaqualand in sandy, often moist places, southwards to Piketberg. The 2 lanceolate basal leaves, up to 15 cm long, have a minutely fringed margin and are at ground level. The clusters of many white flowers are surrounded by pale green, almost white bracts. The first photo was taken by Alan Horstmann in Namaqualand August 2021. Photos 2-3 were taken by Bill Dijk.
The photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn.
Androcymbium cuspidatum Baker (syn. Colchicum cuspidatum (Baker) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is a widespread South African species that occurs throughout the Little Karoo and from the Cedarberg Mountains to Uniondale. It has three leaves, flat on the ground, and small bracts that vary from green to purple-brown. Photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Androcymbium dregei Presl (syn. Colchicum dregei (C. Presl) J.C. Manning & Vinn.) is found on sheltered rock outcrops from Namaqualand to the Karoo. It flowers in winter. Photo by Alessandro Marinello
Androcymbium eucomoides (Jacq.) Willd (syn. Colchicum eucomoides (Jacq.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is a South African species distributed from Namaqualand to the Eastern Cape. Green bracts, turning creamy white, surround the flowers. The first photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok. The last two photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of plants in cultivation.
Androcymbium europaeum (Lange) K.Richt. (syn. Colchicum europaeum (Lange) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is native to southeastern Spain to northwestern Morocco. The photo below was taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of a plant in cultivation.
Androcymbium irroratum Schltr. & K.Krause, syn. Colchicum irroratum(Schltr. & K.Krause) J.C.Manning & Vinn. is native to the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of plants in cultivation.
Androcymbium latifolium Schinz is now included by many in Androcymbium burchellii, but this is complicated by whether or not to name it Colchicum. The synonyms are Androcymbium pulchrum Schltr. & K. Krause, Androcymbium burchellii subsp. pulchrum (Schltr. & K. Krause) Pedrola, Membrives, J.M.Monts. & Caujapé, and Colchicum coloratum subsp. coloratum J.C. Manning & Vinn. It has 2 lance shaped leaves and flowers enclosed in large reddish bracts. The first photograph below was taken by Mary Sue Ittner August 2001 in the Nieuwoudtville Reserve where it was growing in heavy red doleritic clay and the second and third photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller near Middelpos in the Roggeveld September 2006. The third photo shows this species blooming with Romulea subfistulosa. The last photo was taken by Alan Horstmann.
Androcymbium longipes Baker (syn. Colchicum longipes (Baker) J.C. Manning & Vinn.) is found in moist slopes and stony grasslands from the Karoo to the Eastern Cape. It has lanceolate channeled leaves and greenish-yellow flowers clustered between leaf-like bracts. Photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller, Mary Sue Ittner and Cameron McMaster at Naude's Nek and Tiffendell in the Drakensberg Mountains in the Eastern Cape. The last photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Photos by Gottfried Milkuhn show the species in cultivation.
Androcymbium palaestinum Baker (syn. Androcymbium palaestinum (Baker) C.Archer) is the only representative of this genus in the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite being small in size, it is a showy plant. Each flower lasts for a few weeks. It grows on white limestone soils in dry, semi desert conditions. Photos taken by Oron Peri in the Jordon Valley.
The photo below by Gottfried Milkuhn shows a plant in cultivation.
Androcymbium rechingeri Greuter (syn. Colchicum rechingeri (Greuter) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is native to western Kriti to northern Libya. The photos below were taken by Gottfried Milkuhn of plants in cultivation.
Androcymbium spp. Below are a number of unidentified species. In the first photo Rogan Roth would love to know what this attractive Androcymbium species is called. These are plants grown from seed ex. Silverhill Seeds and are easy to grow, proliferating rapidly. The second photo is from Carl Frederick.
Androcymbium striatum Hochst. ex A.Rich. (syn. Colchicum striatum (Hochst. ex A.Rich.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is found on damp ground among rocks and gravel patches from 1800-3000 meters from the Eastern Cape, South Africa to Tropical Africa. Leaves are slender and keeled and flowerheads are hidden within large white petal-like bracts that are striped with green or violet. The first two photos by Cameron McMaster were taken in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The third photo was taken on a rainy day in January by Bob Rutemoeller. The last two photos taken at Andriesberg.
Androcymbium volutare Burch. (syn. Colchicum volutare (Burch.) J.C.Manning & Vinn.) is found in gravelly clay in karroid scrub from the western Karoo to Little Karoo. It has several narrow leaves that are coiled. Flowers are enclosed in a pair of pale green upright bracts with coiled tips. The first two photos were taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner in Calvinia September 2006. The third photo was taken by Cameron McMaster September 2011 near Middelpos. The last photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.