Lachenalia is a genus with bulbs in the Hyacinthaceae family found in Namibia and South Africa. There are around 133 species. A complete illustrated systematic monograph of this genus by Graham Duncan, The Genus Lachenalia, was published in 2012. Most of the species have a dormancy period and grow new roots each year. Lachenalia species starting with a are found on this page.
Lachenalia alba W.F.Barker ex G.D.Duncan grows in clay soils in renosterveld from Nieuwoudtville to Calvinia. It has two spear shaped leaves and white flowers with short pedicels. The first two photos below were taken September 2006 near Nieuwoudtville. The third picture of the flowers is of a cultivated plant. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner. The last photo is from Rod Saunders.
Lachenalia algoensis Schönland is found in coastal grassland in the southeastern Cape. Growing from 6 to 30 cm high, it flowers from July to August. Flowers are yellow to greenish yellow, fading to dull red. According to Don Journet it is possibly a species for the collector as the flowers would not be considered by most as very outstanding being largely green shading to almost white at the base. The flowers are erect and have very short pedicels making a fairly tight flower spike. For him in Australia the flowering period only lasts from late August through September, short by comparison with many other species. He states: "For the collector it certainly has a charm that makes it worth growing." The first photos below from iNaturalist were taken by debbiebodley near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, the next two photos from iNaturalist and the Friends of St Francis Nature Areas were taken at the Cape of St Francis and the last photo from iNaturalist was taken by Ina Loots on the Tsitsikamma coast. All photos are shared under a CC BY-NC license.
Lachenalia aloides (L.f.) Engl., syn. Lachenalia tricolor Thunb., was split into eight species when Graham Duncan published his book in 2012. This wiki page attempts to explain and illustrate the differences. Many of the varieties broadly grown were elevated to species level: Lachenalia flava Andrews, Lachenalia quadricolor Jacq., and Lachenalia vanzyliae (W.F.Barker) G.D.Duncan & T.J.Edwards. Lachenalia luteola Jacq. was reinstated. In addition three new species have been published that were once included: Lachenalia callista G.D.Duncan & T.J.Edwards, Lachenalia patentissima G.D.Duncan, and Lachenalia thunbergii G.D.Duncan & T.J.Edwards. Lachenalia aloides is restricted to granite hillsides in the Southwestern Cape, flowering from early June to early August. Lachenalia aloides is sister to Lachenalia quadricolor. Both have bright yellow to greenish yellow outer and inner tepals with the outer tepals with green apical gibbosities and the inner with deep red or purple markings. Lachenalia aloides has a longer perianth tube, longer outer tepals, and inner tepals that have broad red or purplish red apices with white margins. The inner tepals of Lachenalia quadricolor have apices that are slightly flared and deep purple magenta. Distinctions in morphology between the species are very subtle and because the flowers change color in different stages and the ones in cultivation may have hybridized deciding which photograph belongs to which species is a challenge. The photos below likely represent this species. The first photo by Bill Dijk. The second photo is from Nhu Nguyen. The third photo is from Mary Sue Ittner. The last two photos from iNaturalist were taken by Khuselwa Mabuyane in the Western Cape in July and shared under a CC BY-NC license. They show how different the flowers can look at different stages.
Lachenalia aloides 'Pearsonii' is a named cultivar of this species with vigorous growth and large flowers. The photo below was taken by Doug Westfall.
Lachenalia aloides var. aurea (Lindl.) Engl. is a synonym of Lachenalia flava Andrews.
Lachenalia aloides var. quadricolor (Jacq.) Engl. is a synonym of Lachenalia quadricolor Jacq.
Lachenalia aloides var. vanzyliae W.F.Barker is a synonym of Lachenalia vanzyliae(W.F.Barker) G.D.Duncan & T.J.Edwards.
Lachenalia ameliae W.F.Barker is distributed on clay flats from Ceres to Montagu (Northwest Cape, Roggeveld, Little Karoo) where they often grow in the shade of shrubs or rocks. Plants grow from 4 to 11 cm high and have 1 to 2 lanceolate leaves that lie on the ground and usually have long straight hairs on the upper surface. The greenish yellow flowers have no flower stalks and the anthers are included in the flower. Flowering is from August to September. Photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Lachenalia angelica W.F.Barker is a small species from Namaqualand where it grows on seasonally moist flats and slightly less dry slopes in light brown red sand. Although it grows in an arid environment, the area is subject to regular morning fog. It is a dwarf species (6 to 9.5 cm) with a single hairy leaf and white campanulate flowers with green gibbosities and exserted stamens. Flowering is from September to October. The first photo was taken by Rod Saunders from Silverhill Seeds and the second photo by Alan Horstmann.
Lachenalia anguinea Sweet is commonly called 'snake leaved lachenalia'. One distinguishing feature is that it only has one leaf; the leaf is lanceolate, banded green, and maroon. Flowers are bell-shaped, cream with green markings on long pedicels with well-exserted anthers. This species is found in deep coastal sands in the Northwest Cape and grows from 10 to 35 cm high. Photographs were taken by David Retief near Redelingshuys of plants growing in sand.
Lachenalia arbuthnotiae W. F. Barker is found on marshy flats in the Southwestern Cape where it grows from 18 to 40 cm high. According to Don Journet this species flowers for him from late August through to early November with showy yellow flowers that turn a dull red as they age. The spike is quite dense and generally longer than many, and the flowers are upwards of horizontal with a pedicel that is so short the flowers almost clasp the rachis. With the added attraction of scented flowers, this species would have to be regarded as one of the most desirable in collections. Besides the yellow form, he also grows one that has almost cream flowers which also turn dull red on aging. Photos by Alan Horstmann.
Lachenalia attenuata W.F.Barker ex G.D.Duncan is found on loamy clay slopes from the Roggeveld to the Little Karoo to Riversdale. where it grows 7 to 22 cm high. This species has a single linear leaf with the lower surface banded with dark green and magenta. Flowers are pale blue and greenish yellow on long white pedicels with anthers included. The first four photos were taken by Mary Sue Ittner who obtained hers from the BX. She liked the leaves on this one, but found the flowers more subtle and difficult to photograph. And she did not have luck keeping the plants alive beyond the first season. The last two photos were taken by Alan Horstmann.
Lachenalia aurioliae G.D.Duncan is a variable species of arid habitats found in the Northern Cape, Little Karoo, and the Great Karoo. It flowers in habitat from June to August and is pollinated by honey bees. The broad lanceolate to ovate glaucous leaves are heavily spotted or banded with magenta on the bases. The perianth is urn-shaped, the outer tepals are light blue to gray with brown gibbosities, aging to dull red, and the inner tepals are white to yellowish green. The first three photos were taken by Alan Horstmann. The last photo from Margaret Fox was taken on a farm in the Tankwa Karoo in August 2022.