Gerbera jamesonii Adlam

Family: Asteraceae / Daisy family
Common names:
Barberton daisy, Gerbera daisy (E) ; Rooigousblom (A)


Gerbera jamesonii

This beautiful daisy from the Barberton area in the Northern Province is a deservedly popular garden plant throughout the world and is one of the parents of the many showy Gerbera hybrids seen in florist shops.

Gerbera jamesonii is a perennial herb with deeply lobed leaves covered with silky hairs arising from a crown. The striking inflorescence is borne on a long stalk and the outermost petals (ray florets) may be cream, red, orange or pink, while the central flowers (disc florets) are cream. Flowering occurs in spring and autumn.

Gerbera jamesonii is found naturally in grassland in sandy, well-drained soils in Mpumalanga.

First illustration of Gerbera jamesonii in the Botanical Magazine 1889The genus name Gerbera is in honour of the German naturalist Traugott Gerber, and the species was named after Robert Jameson who collected live specimens while on a prospecting expedition to the Barberton district in 1884, even though the species had been collected on three earlier occasions by other people. In 1888, Medley Wood, the curator of the Durban Botanical Garden sent plants to Kew, which subsequently flowered.

A coloured illustration appeared in the Botanical Magazine in 1889, and the species was described by J.D.Hooker. However, it was recently discovered that R.W.Adlam of Pietermaritzburg had published a valid description of the species in Gardener's Chronicle the previous year, so the author's name has changed.

The breeding of Gerbera started at the end of the 19th century in Cambridge, England, when Richard Lynch crossed G.jamesonii and G.viridifolia. Most of the current commercially grown varieties originate from this cross.

This species is grown in gardens throughout the world. It is one of the most popular ornamental flowers in the world, both as a cut flower and as a pot plant, and therefore is of considerable economic importance.

Growing Gerbera jamesoni

Gerbera jamesonii can be grown from seed or crown divisions. Seeds should be germinated within 1 to 2months of collection, at about 20 to 25C, and will flower after a year. Clumps can also be divided in spring.

Plants require full sun and moderate watering. Rot will occur if the crowns are buried or the drainage is poor. Plants do best with frequent feeding, especially in summer, to promote flowering. Remove dead flowers regularly to encourage further flowering.
Slugs and snails are partial to the leaves, and Gerbera are prone to some viral, bacterial and fungal diseases.

The genus Gerbera consists of about 30 species which are found in Africa, Madagascar, tropical Asia and South America.

Codd,L.E. 1979. The story of the Barberton daisy, Gerbera jamesonii. Veld and Flora (December);114-115.
Germishuizen, G & A. Fabian. 1997. Wildflowers of northern South Africa. Fernwood Press.
Hind, D.J.N. 1992. Typification of Gerbera jamesonii. Kew Bull. 47(1) : 110
Joffe, P. 1993. The Gardeners Guide to South African Plants. Tafelberg Publishers.

Isabel Johnson
Natal National Botanical Garden
September 2002