Succulent Gardening: The Art of Nature

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Boophone haemanthoides 

Boophone haemanthoides is a summer-flowering geophyte growing up to 500 mm tall. It looks very much like a primitive plant with at least two thirds of its massive scaly bulb visible above ground. Some of the largest bulbs can be more than a hundred years old! This deciduous, winter-growing geophyte grows from a massive, egg-shaped bulb surrounded by thick layers of grey or brown, papery outer tunics. A great deal of the bulb can be seen above ground. It produces a spreading fan of up to 20, strap-shaped, intensely glaucous (grey-green) leaves, produced in 2 opposite rows. The leaf surfaces are flat or slightly to deeply channelled, and the leaf margins vary considerably from straight to slightly or strongly wavy. The dense, brush-like umbel (flower head) emerges from the centre of the bulb from early to mid-summer, after the leaves have died back. The umbel is enclosed by 2 oval-shaped bracts, and is carried on a thick, maroon, pinkish brown or yellow stem which is strongly compressed. Booophone haemanthoides occurs from southwestern Namibia to the Cape west coast, and inland to the Roggeveld Mountains in the western Great Karoo. The subsp. haemanthoides has a coastal distribution from Hondeklip Bay in southwestern Namaqualand to Churchhaven, growing mainly in deep sands and on limestone flats, rarely on granite outcrops, in several vegetation types, including Saldanha Flats Strandveld and Namaqualand Strandveld. The subsp. ernesti-ruschii has a much wider, inland distribution, from southwestern Namibia to the Richtersveld, eastern Namaqualand, Bokkeveld Plateau, eastern Cederberg and Roggeveld Plateau. It is associated with steep, rocky mountain slopes and ravines, rocky outcrops and flats, in numerous vegetation types, including Nieuwoudtville-Roggeveld Dolerite Renosterveld and Swartruggens Quartzite Karoo. In the northern parts of its range, this subspecies occurs in exceptionally arid conditions, where droughts may span several years, and in the Roggeveld, the plants often experience sub-zero temperatures in winter. Both subspecies are usually encountered in colonies, although solitary, widely isolated specimens also occur. B. haemanthoides is suited to cultivation in full sun. The subsp. haemanthoides requires a frost-free environment, but the subsp. ernesti-ruschii can take light to moderate frost. this information and photos came from http://pza.sanbi.org/boophone-haemanthoides

 

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