Solenomelus is a genus of South American plants in the Iridaceae family, subfamily Iridoideae, tribe Sisyrinchieae. This genus is closely allied to Sisyrinchium and Olsynium with rhizomes, flowers with a perianth tube and a style that is not divided, and a single capitate stigma. There are only two species, restricted to the southern Andes of Chile and Argentina in South America. Flowers are fugacious, yellow or blue.
Solenomelus pedunculatus (Gillies ex Hook.) Hochr. (syn. Solenomelus chilensis Miers and Sisyrinchium pedunculatum Gillies ex Hook.) is native to the Chilean Andes. It has grass-like leaves that are greyish green growing in a clump and a succession of short-lived deep yellow flowers on a zip-zag stalk. This species easily germinates from seeds (even those that are stored in the fridge for several years) and can flower in just one season. Sow the seeds in the autumn and allow the seedlings to grow through the winter and they will bloom in spring. While they may bloom in a 2" pot, the larger the pot, the bigger the plant will grow. In the summer, the plant goes dormant and only the very tiny rhizome is left. In the ground they survive without any watering but they will not survive a completely dry summer in a pot.
Photos 1-5 were taken by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The first three photos of these plants were taken when they were flowering the second year from NARGS seed. The flowers are not erect, but almost falling on the ground. Perhaps where they are planted, there is not enough light. Mary Sue finds them to be very charming. During our dry summer in Northern California the leaves die back much like our native Sisyrinchium bellum, but return when it starts raining in the fall. Nineteen years later there are still a few returning where they were planted in the ground.
Solenomelus segethii (Phil.) Kuntze is native from central Chile to southern Argentina. It has violet flowers, an unbranched stem, and narrow tough, fibrous leaves. Photos from iNaturalist taken by Eitel Thielememann and Nolan Exe in Chile in December and January and shared under CC BY-NC and CC BY licenses.