|Height:||20-30 cm (0.7-1 ft)|
|Flower Colors:||yellow, white, purple|
|Flower Season:||late spring to early summer|
|Life form:||deciduous bulb|
Tigridia mexicana is native to parts of Mexico with pronounced rainy and dry seasons. It grows in clay pans subject to seasonal flooding in full sun at an altitude of around 1750 meters in the transition zone between oak forest and deciduous brush jungle. It flowers at the beginning of the rainy season in its native habitat (end of May through beginning of June). The flowers appear at the top of a 8-10 inch tall inflorescence before the pleated leaves have fully extended. The bulbs grow deep about 8-10 inches under the compacted soil and are difficult to dig up without damaging the bulbs. The bulbs do not offset but grow quickly and easily from seed.
Tigridia mexicana is thought of as consisting of 3 subspecies, differing in flower color but mostly identical in vegetative morphology and habitat preference. Since mixed populations do not occur, and Molseed found that hybridization between them was difficult, further genetic studies may or may not confirm the subspecies status.
Tigridia mexicana subsp. mexicana, the yellow form, was seen growing near Sprekelia formosissima, Milla biflora, Sacoila lanceolatus (terrestrial orchid), Sisyrinchium sp., and Echeandia sp. These other geophytic species were observed growing in rocky areas at the edges of the areas prone to flooding where Tigridia mexicana grows. The first two pictures were of cultivated plants. The remainder of the photos were taken in situ in Mexico State.
Photos by Dennis Szeszko show flower closeups (top view, side view) from cultivated plant and flowers being pollinated by honeybees (Note clay soil and just emerging leaves) and close-up of flower in situ.
Small colony of Tigridia mexicana in situ with Ruellia sp. (purple flowers) in the first photo and wide-angle view of habitat showing Opuntia sp. and scrub-brush in the second. (Note little yellow flowers.) Photos by Dennis Szeszko.