Mystery Bulbs

This page is a place where people can post pictures of bulbs they are having trouble identifying. Anyone who thinks they can help figure out these plants, please send a note to the pbs list for discussion. New items appear at the top of the page.


Mystery bulb from Maria Botwright who said "I picked up a plant which looks like a flattened football. It has a smooth appearance and is light beige in colour. From its centre a yearly stem comes out. It bears parallel leaves along the stem, which is approx 1'6" and bears small, insignificant, bell shaped white flowers. I bought it because of its unusual appearance, but now i have the responsibility to find out its name,what it is and how to look after it. Have contacted several people and scanned the internet, to no avail. It could belong to the Beaucarnea species, except that the leaves are shaped more like those of a rosebush." - solved by Ewald "Raphionacme burkei (Apocynaceae)".

Mystery bulb from Maria Botwright

P M Mathai writes "I wonder if you could help in identification of a Ledebouria from an area around Graaff Reinet, in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Here is a photo of the Ledebouria from the old Shooting Range (taken over by housing developments, many years back) of Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa." Nhu Nguyen thinks it might be one of the many forms of Ledebouria revoluta.

Mystery, P M Mathai.

Ton Wijnen asked "Is the Hippeastrum in the picture H. starkiorum? Or another species? Puniceum? Petiolatum?". It was suggested to be Hippeastrum striatum.

Hippeastrum starkiorum?, Ton Wijnen

Jyl Tuck asks for identification of this Eucomis. I started Eucomis bicolor from seed and some bulbs started flowering 3 summers ago. But there had always been a couple of bulbs that appeared different. Last summer I stuck all the bulbs in 1 pot to get a good show and one of the 'different' bulbs flowered. My Eucomis autumnalis and bicolor flowered end of July into August when the 'different' bulb started. As you can see in this picture (bicolor left) the 'different' bulbs (right) leaves are very long, not wavy, with no spots on leaves or stem of flower. I got a fair number of seed from the plant too which should not have crossed. The seeds has sprouted and are growing. Only got a couple seed from the other Eucomis which did not sprout. The way the flowers are arranged on the stem is different and about 18-20 inches tall.

Mystery Eucomis, Jyl TuckMystery Eucomis, Jyl Tuck

Nicky Ross of Cape Town asks for help identifying this plant: "The bulb has popped up in my garden, and doing extremely well in a flower bed. It is spreading and looking very healthy. I am not sure if I have identified properly. The green leaves are long and narrow and do not start from the base of the plant but further up. I think it may be Hymenocallis littoralis but I need verification! The ruler is 30 cm long. I can’t remember when the lilies flowered, I think it was Feb/March." (Note that Nicky is in the southern hemisphere, so the plants would have bloomed in late summer or fall in the north.)

Any thoughts on their identity?

Belinda Greyling of Gauteng, South Africa, reports that this is Hymencallis narcissiflora. Jim McKenney thinks it is Hymenocallis × festalis, a hybrid of Hymenocallis narcissiflora and H. longipetala.

Unidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky RossUnidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky RossUnidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky RossUnidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky Ross

Dee Foster posted this picture in the hope of ascertaining if it is virused? Respondents thought it could be a nutrient deficiency, but couldn't tell for sure.

Virused Veltheimia?, Dee Foster

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Page last modified on March 17, 2019, at 08:53 AM