Empodium is a genus from Southern Africa in the Hypoxidaceae family that is similar to Hypoxis and Spiloxene. However, Empodium flowers are borne close to the ground by a floral tube and differ from Spiloxene flowers that have a distinct stalk. The rootstock is a corm and the flowers are star shaped, yellow inside and green on the outside. Leaves are lance shaped. Many of the species bloom in the fall. Leaves are linear or lanceolate, pleated, dry or green at flowering.

Empodium flexile (Nel) M.F.Thomps. ex Snijman occurs from Namaqualand to Oudtshoorn on clay or sand on stony flats. Growing to 20 cm, it has three pleated leaves, usually dry at flowering, or just appearing. Flowers are pleasantly scented, bright yellow and appear from autumn to early winter after the first good rain. Photos below from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.

Empodium flexile, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-VlokEmpodium flexile, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Empodium gloriosum (Nel) B.L.Burtt grows on sandy or loamy soil on lower slopes and flats from the southern Cape to the Eastern Cape. It flowers March to June and grows 4 to 20 cm high. Flowers coincide with the leaves. It has tufted lanceolate leaves that are longer than the inflorescence, softly pleated with long narrow tips.

Empodium namaquensis (Baker) M.F.Thomps. is native to South Africa, and is found on rocky outcrops from Namaqualand to Clanwilliam. It grows to 30 cm and has tufted, broad pleated leaves and yellow lemon scented flowers. Photos by Alessandro Marinello.

Empodium namaquensis, Alessandro MarinelloEmpodium namaquensis, Alessandro MarinelloEmpodium namaquensis, Alessandro Marinello

Empodium plicatum (Thunb.) Garside has yellow flowers with one to four deeply pleated leaves that are dry or emerging at flowering. If emerging at flowering they are shorter than the inflorescence, but when mature longer and wider. This species grows in clay and loamy flats or lower slopes in seasonally damp sites from Namaqualand to the Cape peninsula and the southern Cape. The first photo by Bill Dijk and the last taken in the Overberg by Cameron McMaster.

Empodium plicatum, Bill DijkEmpodium plicatum, Napier, Cameron McMaster

Empodium sp. photos below were taken by Cameron McMaster in the Overberg. The first was taken near Napier and the second near Bredasdorp. The photographer was uncertain about the identity; the only two species that grow in this location are Empodium plicatum and Empodium gloriosum. The neck above the ovary is hairy in the former and smooth in the latter.

Empodium sp., Napier, Cameron McMasterEmpodium sp., Bredasdorp, Cameron McMaster

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