A splash of brilliant red in autumn comes from this beautiful Cape bulb.
Haemanthus crispus is a small, deciduous geophyte. Bulbs to 6 cm in diameter, mostly forming small clusters. Leaves narrow, strap-shaped, 10 to 20 cm long, with dark green and maroon blotches on the underside, margins wavy, emerging soon after the inflorescence. Flowerheads up to 20 cm tall, with a compact umbel, 2 to4 cm in diameter, of red or sometimes pink flowers surrounded by large, waxy, red or pink petal-like bracts. Berries round, 1 to 2 cm in diameter, pale pink (Snijman 1984).
Haemanthus crispus is treated as Least Concern (LC) in the Red List of South African Plants ( Raimando et al . 2009 ).
Distribution and habitat
Haemanthus crispus is endemic to the Greater Cape Floristic Region and occurs widely from Clanwilliam, north throughout Namaqualand to Steinkopf (Snijman 1984).
Derivation of name
The name Haemanthus means blood flower (derived from Greek “ haima” for blood and “ anthos ” meaning flower) a reference to the red inflorescence found in most species. The specific epithet “ crispus” refers to the wavy leaf margins.
Unlike the summer-rainfall species of Haemanthus, which usually flower in spring to summer, H. crispus, like the other winter-rainfall species of the genus, flowers in the dry autumn months (March to April) when little else is in flower.
The flowerheads of this species are almost always red except for a single known population from Koebee Pass on the Bokkeveld Escarpment east of Vanrhynsdorp, where they are pink (Snijman 1984).
Growing Haemanthus crispus
Haemanthus crispus will make the most impact in a rockery or container in full sun or partial shade, protected from frost. As they are from the winter-rainfall region, they are best left dry during summer when they are dormant. Regular watering can commence in autumn, once they have started to sprout. They can be propagated from seed, bulb cuttings and offsets.
- Manning, J.C., Goldblatt, P. & Snijman, D. 2002. The color encyclopedia of Cape bulbs . Timber Press, Portland & Cambridge.
- Raimando, D., Von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A., Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants 2009. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.
- Snijman, D.A. 1984. A revision of the genus Haemanthus (Amaryllidaceae). Journal of South African Botan y , Suppl. Vol. 12.
- Snijman, D.A. 2005-08. Haemanthus L. Internet 4 pp. http://www.plantzafrica.com/planthij/haemanthus.htm
Luvo Magoswana and Anthony R. Magee
Compton Herbarium, Kirstenbosch
Marianne le Roux
National Herbarium, Pretoria