Romulea is a genus in the Iridaceae family of about 90 species found both in South Africa and in Europe. Rootstock is a corm, globose, bell shaped to top shaped, compressed or asymmetric with a circular to crescent shaped basal ridge. The pictures below are of romuleas that are native to South Africa, grown from seed or seen in the wild. Many of the species are very similar and difficult to tell apart. Sometimes it is necessary to examine the bracts and bracteoles and often looking at the corm is very helpful. Photos of the different corms will be added as available.
There are three good references for the southern African species, The Genus Romulea in South Africa written by Miriam de Vos in 1972, her revision written in 1982 and a later revision from John Manning and Peter Goldblatt in 2001.
Species from l to n are shown on this page.
Romulea leipoldtii Marais is found on damp sandy sites in the Western Cape, flowering in spring. The flowers are cream to white with a yellow cup. Photos 1-4 by Mary Sue Ittner. The last of the four is a picture of the corms on a 1 cm grid; they are obliquely flattened towards the base with a crescent-shaped basal ridge. The final photo from Rod Saunders was taken in habitat.
Romulea longipes Schltr. is found on sandy flats in the southeastern Cape. Growing from 15 to 50 cm high, it has three to five narrowly four-grooved leaves, a corm with an oblique basal ridge of fibril clusters, and cream to apricot flowers with small markings around the yellow cup. Flowering occurs between July-November. Photos from Cameron McMaster.
Romulea luteiflora (M.P.de Vos) M.P.de Vos (previously seen in references spelled luteoflora) has yellow flowers with dark lines or blotches around the cup. It flowers late winter into spring and is found on loamy soils in the Cape Province. The first three photos, taken Jan 2004 by Mary Sue Ittner of plants grown from Silverhill Seed, show a close-up, a whole pot in bloom, and the back of the flowers. The fourth photo shows a slightly different form grown by Michael Mace. The last photo from Mary Sue Ittner shows the corms on a 1 cm grid.
Romulea macowanii Baker is a summer rainfall species with a golden yellow flower that is often orangy at the base. This plant is found from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal. Flowering occurs at ground level with almost no flowering stalk. It is distinguished from other yellow flowered species by its long tube, but this can be hard to see. The corm has a crescent shaped basal ridge. It flowers summer to fall. This species grows in similar habitats to Romulea camerooniana, sometimes side by side flowering simultaneously without hybridising. Both prefer high altitude mountain grassland (1000 - 2000 m altitude), often in rocky outcrops and often in moist seepages - so they are adapted to a range of environments. They flower from January but peak flowering seems to be in April, which is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It is named for the British botanist Peter MacOwan (1830-1909). Photos by Cameron McMaster. The first two photos were taken near Cathcart in the Eastern Cape and the next two were taken at Naude's Nek and Tiffendell in the higher elevations. The last shows the seed capsule.
Romulea membranacea M.P.de Vos grows on sandy flats in the western Karoo and the Bokkeveld escarpment. It blooms in winter. Flowers are dark yellow with dark lines in the cup. Photo by Alan Horstmann.
Romulea minutiflora Klatt is a widespread winter rainfall plant that flowers winter to spring. It has small pale mauve to violet flowers with a greenish-yellow cup, a violet circle in the throat and greenish or mottled backs. The last photo shows the corms on a 1 cm grid. They are obliquely flattened with a spoon shaped basal ridge. The first two photos were taken by Cameron McMaster in the Overberg. The next three photos were taken by Mary Sue Ittner including the corms on a 1 cm grid. The last photo is from Roger Macfarlane.
Romulea monadelpha (Sweet) Baker grows in damp doleritic clays flats and outcrops in the Bokkeveld Plateau and the Roggeveld escarpment. Growing mostly from 10 to 18 cm, it is very similar to Romulea sabulosa but differs by having deep claret-red flowers with each segment having a black blotch on a blue or purplish grey or sometimes pale yellow background. Filaments are joined, forming a short, stout, shiny-black column. Photos were taken in habitat in the Roggeveld near Middelpos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner September 2006 and Cameron McMaster September 2011.
The photos below are of plants in cultivation. Photos 1-2 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo 2 shows Romulea sabulosa (left) and Romulea monadelpha (right) for comparison. They bloom about a week apart in Northern California. Photo 3 was taken by Nhu Nguyen showing the whole plant.
Photos 1-2 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo 1 shows the corms which are rounded at the base with curved acuminate basal fibers bent towards one side. Photos 3-4 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photos 2-4 show the back of the flowers.
Romulea montana Schltr. ex Bég. is found on sandstone outcrops in the northwest Cape. It flowers late winter early spring. Flowers are shiny buttercup yellow with dark streaks or blotches in the throat (sometimes absent), usually two filiform leaves, and green bracts and bracteoles, the latter with wide brownish or brown-edged membranous margins. Outer segments on the backs are brown or reddish brown or with faint feathered veining. This species has a corm with a wide oblique crescent-shaped basal ridge with tunics that break up into irregular groups of parallel fibrils. Photo 1 by Bob Werra. Photos 2-3 taken September 2011 near Nieuwoudtville by Cameron McMaster. In the second photo it is seen with Hesperantha pauciflora.
Romulea monticola M.P.de Vos blooms winter into spring and is found in sandy loam in fynbos, Northwest Cape. It has small golden yellow flowers, often with a darker yellow cup and darker veins in the throat. Bracts are greenish or purplish brown; the inner has wide membraneous margins and tip. Corms are rounded at the base with strongly curved basal teeth that are bent and often broken. The first four pictures by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner show the front and the back of the flowers, the corms on a 1 cm grid, and a plant flowering September 2006 near Nieuwoudtville. The final photo from Rod Saunders was taken in habitat.
Romulea multisulcata M.P.de Vos from the Northwest Cape grows in seasonal ponds where the corm and base of the stem are embedded in mud. It has two long, erect, cylindrical basal foliage leaves and butter-cup yellow flowers. Photo by Rod Saunders.
Romulea namaquensis M.P.de Vos is found on sandy or stony ground in the Kamiesberg in Namaqualand. It has shiny rose to salmon-pink, sometimes almost white, flowers with small blotches or 3 to 5 reddish-black veins in the throat. Photo 1 was taken by Mary Sue Ittner in Namaqualand, a very dry winter rainfall area of South Africa. It is shown growing with Lapeirousia silenoides. Photo 2 was taken by Alan Horstmann and photo 3 was taken by Rod Saunders.
European And Mediterranean Romuleas - European And Mediterranean Romuleas - South African Romulea a-d - South African Romulea e-k - South African Romulea o-s - South African Romulea t-z - Romulea index - Romulea index