Kniphofia is a large genus of about 70 Species in the Asphodelaceae family that are rhizomatous or have fleshy roots. They are from Africa, Madagascar and Yemen. Most of the species are from Africa, especially South Africa and many of the popular cultivars originated from South African species. Information about this genus from South African National Biodiversity Institute can be found here.
While Linnaeus placed the only species known to him in Aloe (as Aloe uvaria, meaning "like grapes"), Moench created the genus Kniphofia in 1794, honoring the German medic Johannes H. Kniphof. Another name which is still used in nursery catalogs is Tritoma, referencing a later description of the Genus by Ker Gawler. The common name for these plants is poker or red hot pokers because of their spikes which are often red or orange-red. Nomenclature of cultivated plants can be quite difficult, because the species hybridize easily and show considerable variation depending on the conditions of culture. Besides the general size and color, the silhouette of the inflorescence, the arrangement of leaves and the flowering time are key features for identification.
Rachel Saunders reports that seeds last well up to two years. Travis Owen sowed seeds from a hardy unknown cultivar (hardy to at least 0 °F) in late Autumn of 2014, just scratched into the surface in a potting mix with a high grit to humus ratio. The pot was kept in the light with bottom heat on a dry porch (but the pot was kept moist). The seeds germinated within a few weeks and grew on through the winter. In 2015, the "seedlings", now with leaves ten inches in height, were repotted. Below is a photo of the roots of the young plants less than six months old:
Dennis Kramb asked the PBS list "Is it normal for Kniphofia to produce keikeis?". Keikei is the Hawaiian word for child and in this context means plantlet. These plants were grown from a Walmart packet of non species specific seed and are shown in the photo below.
Go to Kniphofia species pages
Go to Kniphofia hybrids page