Hypoxis colchicifolia

Water Needs

ater needs; low; moderate

Hypoxis colchicifolia
Bulb
Broad-leaved Hypoxis/ igudu/

25 and 60 cm

Size

Light Conditions

sun

Frost

moderate

Flowers

lower yellow August to February; spring summer

sun; grassland; sandy soils; rockery; wildlife bees

Garden Situation

Habitat

grassland; rocky places; coastal eastern cape; coastal kzn

Region

subtropical east coast; thicket; highveld;

Rain Season

summer

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Description

Adding bright colour and strong form to a commonly fine-leaved summer grassland display, is this unusual member of the Hypoxis genus, a favourite plant found in a friend’s wild grassland. I would have it in my garden for the leaves alone, they are so striking. Though the typical gold-yellow flowers make identification simply, to gardeners more familiar with the ground-sweeping and narrow leaves of better-known siblings H. hemerocallidea and H. angustifolia, the broad, upright leaves come as rather a surprise. If plants or seeds can be sourced, this lovely plant is relatively easy to grow. Seed should be sown fresh in a well-draining mixture, and kept moist and well ventilated until germination within 3 – 8 weeks. Transplant as the second leaf appears, but keep in the nursery for another season before planting out. Mature specimens transplant readily enough; 3 plants saved from destruction by a municipal verge cutting crew took easily when dug out and planted immediately into another grassland in the Kloof district. Description: H. colchicifolia grows from a hard, fleshy corm, a standard rootstock in plants that escape both winter cold and fires by disappearing beneath the soil through winter. Plants have few leaves, between 3 and 8, and these wrap around the base to form a false stem, opening up almost into a funnel shape. Evenly spaced and conspicuous veins stretch longitudinally from tip to base forming soft surface ridges. Where leaves meet at the base, they are coloured either white, purple or red. New leaves appear in spring, arranged in 3 rows along the stalk, one above the other. Leaf shape can be quite varied, from linear to broad, lance-shaped, quite tough, with very few hairs, which differentiates it from the hairy leaves of other members of the genus. Colour varies from bright green to grey-green. Flowers appear once the rains have set in, through spring and summer (August to February), forming between 1 – 4 inflorescence per plant, and between 6 – 20 flowers per inflorescence, opening sequentially. Their bright yellow informs the common name of the Hypoxis species, Yellow Stars. Mature height is between 250 and 600 mm. Seed: ovoid (egg shaped), black, glossy or dull. Situation: plants are dotted singly in grasslands, commonly in sandy or poor soils. This endemic species occurs naturally in the summer rainfall grasslands of the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, and populations are stable, according to the SANBI website, even though, along with H. hemerocallidea the plants are frequently used by African traditional healers.

Hypoxis colchicifolia
Hypoxis colchicifolia
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