Bulbine

Bulbine is a genus in the Asphodelaceae family or some of the newest taxonomy suggests the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. It is closely related to Bulbinella but has flowers that are "bearded" with hairy stamens. Many of the species are not geophytes. We will be listing ones on this page that are tuberous, rhizomatous, or bulbous and perhaps some that are not. Distribution of the more or less 73 species is from tropical and southern Africa and also Australia. Leaves are linear to lanceolate and often succulent or fleshy. Flowers are small, mostly yellow (rarely white, orange or pink).


Bulbine abyssinica A.Rich. grows in rocky grassland and on stony flats and slopes from the western Karoo, South Africa to tropical Africa. Growing from 40 to 80 cm, it has linear succulent leaves in a basal rosette with broad membranous margins at the base, a simple or branched rhizomatous rootstock, and a densely crowded raceme of short lasting yellow flowers. Flowering takes place in late spring or summer, after good rainfall. The first three photos were taken at Gaika's Kop on a grassy slope that had burned within the past year. The fourth picture showing a plant in seed was taken in a very dry area near Cradock. Photos taken by Mary Sue Ittner, Bob Rutemoeller, and Cameron McMaster in the Eastern Cape.

Bulbine abyssinica, Gaika's Kop, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine abyssinica, Gaika's Kop, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine abyssinica, Gaika's Kop, Bob RutemoellerBulbine abyssinica, Cradock, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine abyssinica, Cameron McMaster

Photos below by Bob Rutemoeller were taken (in the rain) on a stony flat near Andriesberg.

Bulbine abyssinica, Andriesberg, Bob RutemoellerBulbine abyssinica, Andriesberg, Bob RutemoellerBulbine abyssinica, Andriesberg, Bob Rutemoeller

Bulbine alooides (L.) Willd. is from the western Cape and Namaqualand where it is found or rocky flats. Growing from 20 to 40 cm high, it has 6 to 12 basal succulent leaves emerging at flowering and many small yellow flowers with fluffy filaments in a crowded raceme. It flowers March to May. It is quick to flower from seed and dies back afterwards. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner.

Bulbine alooides, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine alooides flower, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine alooides stalk, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine alooides leaves, Mary Sue Ittner

Bulbine alveolata S.A.Hammer is native to Northern Cape Province, South Africa. It is a winter grower and summer dormant plant. The leaves are delicate with mottled clearing. Grow the plant in a very well-draining mix with low organic matter (max 1:1 organic inorganic). It likes to stay moist throughout the winter growing season. Once the plant drops its leaves and starts to flower, water only sparingly until the plant goes completely dormant. Once that happens, stop watering until the fall when rain resumes. In the Bay Area, it does not like to be in full sun nor does it like to be too wet. The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 2 shows the diminutive nature of this plant in a 2.5 inch (5 cm) pot. Photo 3 shows the thickened tuberous structure.

Bulbine alveolata, Nhu NguyenBulbine alveolata, Nhu NguyenBulbine alveolata, Nhu Nguyen

Bulbine bulbosa (R.Br.) Haw. is a species from Australia that is a dwarf perennial with a rootstock that is bulb-like with a tuber below. It has linear succulent leaves that are poisonous to stock and yellow flowers. It grows in forested areas, in sub-alpine regions, and exposed coastal locations. In cultivation it grows well in a container in dappled shade to full sun. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner showing the flowers and the rootstock on a grid of 1 cm squares.

Bulbine bulbosa flowers, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine bulbosa flowers, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine bulbosa rootsock, Mary Sue Ittner

Bulbine favosa (Thunb.) Schult. & Schult., syn. Bulbine filifolia, is found on sandy and limestone flats and slopes from the western Cape to Zimbabwe. It is a tuberous species from 15 to 50 cm high, with few linear to filiform usually dry at flowering and yellow fragrant flowers in a lax raceme.

Bulbine favosa, Cameron McMaster

Bulbine foleyi E.Phillips is found on mainly shale flats and slopes from the Western Karoo to Clanwilliam and Albertina. It is a tuberous species from 8 to 40 cm with soft linear to filiform leaves, dry at flowering and fragrant yellow flowers in a long dense raceme from late spring to summer (October to February). Photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.

Bulbine foleyi, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Bulbine latifolia (L. f.) Spreng. is found in grassland, amongst rocks and in rock crevices and on river banks from 300 to 1700 m from the Southeastern Cape to Mpumalanga. Growing from 30 to 60 cm, it has a thick rhizome with thin wiry roots, lanceolate leaves in a rosette, and yellow flowers in a dense, elongate raceme from August to November. Photos from Cameron McMaster.

Bulbine latifolia, Cameron McMasterBulbine latifolia, Cameron McMaster

Bulbine longifolia Schinz is a tuberous species found on rocky slopes over a wide distribution from Namaqualand, the Northwest and Southwest Cape and the Karoo at altitudes from 100 to 1220 meters. Growing from 15 to 20 cm, it has a few lanceolate leaves developed at flowering and flowers in a lax raceme from August to October. It is similar to Bulbine praemosa, but smaller. Photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.

Bulbine longifolia, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Bulbine mesembryanthemoides Haw. is a tuberous species that grows from 8 to 20 cm with two short, erect, cylindrical succulent leaves with a transparent glass-like top that enables light to enter the buried part of the leaf. The leaves dry up when it becomes dry and warm and the reflexed yellow flowers appear in spring, sometimes after the leaves have retracted. It is found on rocky slopes and flats in clay or sandstone soils from Namaqualand to Uitenhage and the Eastern Cape. It flowers August to November. Photos from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.

Bulbine mesembryanthemoides, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-VlokBulbine mesembryanthemoides, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Bulbine narcissifolia Salm-Dyck occurs singly or in colonies (the latter especially in overgrazed areas) on poor soils in grassland in southern Africa from the eastern regions of the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, north to Ethiopia. It has gray green strap shaped, sometimes twisted, semi succulent leaves, a dense spike-like inflorescence of yellow flowers in spring and summer, and a rhizomatous base. It is suitable for cultivation as it is both frost and drought tolerant and copes with a wide range of temperatures. The first two photos by Bob Rutemoeller were taken at Naude's Nek in the Eastern Cape and the second two in Andriesberg. The last by Cameron McMaster is a close up of the flowers.

Bulbine narcissifolia, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerBulbine narcissifolia, Naude's Nek, Bob RutemoellerBulbine narcissifolia, Andriesberg, Bob RutemoellerBulbine narcissifolia, Andriesberg, Bob RutemoellerBulbine narcissifolia, Cameron McMaster

Bulbine praemosa Spreng. grows from a flat based tuber and spreading roots. It is 40 to 60 cm tall with deeply channeled and tapering succulent leaves surrounded at base by a short fibrous neck and yellow to salmon flowers compacted at the tips with fluffy stamens borne in a lax raceme. It is found on sandy soils and red sandy loam soils from Namaqualand to the Little Karoo. It flowers from June to October.


Bulbine spp. The first two photos were taken in the Komsberg by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner in September 2006. The next three photos were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. The first was taken in Calvinia and the next two in Namaqualand.

Bulbine sp., Komsberg, Bob RutemoellerBulbine sp., Komsberg, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine sp., Calvinia, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine sp., Namaqualand, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine sp., Namaqualand, Mary Sue Ittner

Bulbine succulenta Compton is a rare species that grows on gravelly clay flats from Namaqualand to the western Karoo. It grows to 60 cm high from a lobed tuber that is covered by a hard casing that forms a thick fibrous collar around the base. This species has succulent leaves with blunt tips that become erect with the cylindrical raceme of yellow flowers. It flowers winter into early spring. Leaves die back rapidly with the onset of warmer weather and reappear after a good rain in autumn. The first two photos taken September 2011 near Nieuwoudtville by Cameron McMaster. The last photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.

Bulbine succulenta, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMasterBulbine succulenta, Nieuwoudtville, Cameron McMasterBulbine succulenta, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Bulbine torta N.E.Br. is found in rocky dry places in Namaqualand and south into the Cederberg. It grows from a flat based tuber and has twisted or coiled thread-like leaves and yellow to light orange flowers with fluffy yellow stamens. In the wild it blooms July to September. Photos taken different Septembers near Middelpos in the Roggeveld by Mary Sue Ittner and Cameron McMaster.

Bulbine torta, Mary Sue IttnerBulbine torta, Middelpos, Cameron McMasterBulbine torta, Middelpos, Cameron McMasterBulbine torta, Middelpos, Cameron McMaster

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Page last modified on December 12, 2017, at 08:14 PM