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Iridaceae in sub-Saharan Africa
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Published In: Journal of South African Botany 36: 273. 1970. (J. S. African Bot.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 6/6/2016)
Acceptance : Accepted
Taxon Profile     (Last Modified On 11/24/2016)
Description: Plants 50–300 mm high. Corm globose, obliquely flattened toward base with crescent-shaped basal ridge, 6–15 mm diam., tunics splitting into fine parallel fibrils along ridge. Stem subterranean or aerial, exserted up to 200 mm, elongating in fruit. Leaves 3 or 4, lowermost 1 basal, terete or compressed-cylidrical, narrrowly or widely 4-grooved, 1–3 mm diam., glabrous or ciliolate along rib margins, cauline leaves clustered at stem apex, sheaths often wide. Peduncles up to 8, up to 70 mm long, semiterete, glabrous or ciliolate along angles, sharply arcuate in fruit or ultimately suberect; outer bracts green with narrow membranous margins, 8–20(–28) mm long, striate or lightly ribbed (4 to 6 veins/mm), inner bracts entirely membranous or sometimes submembranous in centre, central portion sometimes conspicuously brown-spotted, with broad membanrous margins streaked or speckled with brown. Flowers pale or sulphur-yellow, white, pale blue or rarely pink, with yellow or greenish cup, outer tepals frequently green or greenish brown on reverse, white forms sometimes scented; perianth tube funnel-shaped, 3–7 mm long; tepals elliptic or oblanceolate, 10–30 × 2–12 mm. Filaments4–7 mm long, pilose basally, yellow; anthers 3–7 mm long. Style dividing shortly below or beyond anther tips, branches 2 mm long, divided halfway. Capsules ellipsoid or shortly cylindric, ± 10 mm long. Flowering time: June o September.
Country: South Africa
South African Province: Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape
Distribution and ecology: widespread through the coastal and near inland Northern and Western Cape, from the Richtersveld to Swellendam, with isolated records from  Riversdale, Albertinia and Humansdorp; in seasonally damp or moist places.
Diagnosis: recognized by the solitary, often rather swollen basal leaf, the cauline leaves typically with wide sheathing bases, the entirely membranous or submembranous inner bract, and the canary yellow or white to pale blue flowers. A common, widely distributed and polymorphic species varying greatly in size, growth form, leaf thickness and ciliation, and flower colour. Flower colour is genetically determined but growth form is at least partly influenced by growing conditions.
General Notes: many of the variants were described as separate species and De Vos (1972) maintained some of them at varietal level as follows: var. flava for plants with glabrous leaves 1–3 mm diam. and yellow, white or blue flowers; var. minor (Bég.) M.P.de Vos for similar forms with smaller, invariably yellow flowers less than 25 mm long; var. hirsuta (Bég.) M.P.de Vos for plants with mostly ciliolate leaves 2–3 mm diam., short stems, and white to blue flowers; and var. viridiflora (Bég.) M.P.de Vos for similar plants with frequently elongated stems and leaves less than 1 mm diam.. At least one population of the latter was polyploid, 2n = 48. The varieties cannot be retained in view of the existence of numerous intermediates between them, their widespread occurrence throughout the range of the species, and the presence of other combinations of characters, notably plants with ciliolate leaves and yellow flowers.



Specimens whose coordinates are enclosed in square brackets [ ] have been mapped to a standard reference mark based on political units.
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