This is a summer-growing Nerine, one of a genus of beautiful
geophytes endemic to southern Africa.
Nerine laticoma includes several forms which were previously
recognized as separate species (N. duparquetiana, N. falcata
and N. lucida). This species has a tuft of four to eight broad,
strap-shaped leaves which can grow to 300 x 15 mm. The bulb is large
laticoma bears a large, spherical inflorescence of white, or
pale to rose pink, irregular flowers. The perianth segments grow
to 45 x 5 mm and have a pinkish brown, median keel. In one form
the segments are strongly recurved. Flowers are borne any time between
early January and late March and are short-lived. Flowers are followed
by a papery capsule which is the fruit and contains one to many
round, or irregularly-shaped, fleshy seeds. Nerine species
hybridize easily, so if several species are grown in close proximity,
the seed is likely to yield garden hybrids.
This species occurs in a broad band stretching from the dry inland
parts of Namibia eastwards and southwards through southern Botswana,
Limpopo, Gauteng, the North-West, Northern Cape, Free State and
Lesotho. It usually occurs in large colonies on deep, red, sandy
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The Greek word Nerine refers to a mythological sea nymph,
daughter of the sea gods Nereus and Doris. The epithet laticoma
refers to the broad tuft of leaves. Nerine is endemic to southern
Africa and comprises about 25 species; widely distributed throughout
the region, the main concentration is in the summer rainfall areas,
especially in Eastern Cape.
This is a summer-growing plant. It survives the cold, dry winters
by going dormant. New leaves emerge from the storage organ, the
large bulb, in spring when conditions for growth improve.
Uses and cultural aspect
Nerine bulbs contain alkaloids, and this species has the
common name gifbol (Afr.), but no traditional uses are recorded
for this particular species. Together with other species such as
Nerine sarniensis and Nerine
masoniorum, these plants are valued primarily for their
Growing Nerine laticoma
Although very attractive, this species can be difficult to get
to flower in cultivation. Plants can be grown in deep pots or in
a well-drained rockery in suitable climates. These plants require
very high summer temperatures and a completely dry winter period
to thrive. Bulbs should be planted with their necks just below soil
level. Plant in a sandy medium with a little compost and water heavily
in summer while the plant is growing, but allow the soil to dry
out between waterings.
Nerine laticoma does not produce offsets, but is easily
grown from seed. When the seed is ripe, sow it in deep seed trays
in a sandy medium. Just cover the seed. Leave the seedlings in the
trays for at least two seasons, after which they can be grown on
in larger containers, or planted out in the garden. The broad-leaved
N. laticoma takes at least five years to flower for the first
time when grown from seed.
Watch out for attacks by the amaryllis lily borer and mealy bugs.
Slugs and snails can do great damage to the leaves, and are responsible
for transmitting viral disease. Remove the pests by hand or use
a bait or repellent such as broken eggshells or tobacco dust in
a ring around the base of the plants. Thrips, a minute, narrow,
sucking insect can also attack the plant. They are most often found
on the undersides of the leaves, resulting in characteristic white
streaks. Control severe infestations with a pesticide spray.
Duncan, G. 2002. Grow nerines. Kirstenbosch Gardening Series.
National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
Du Plessis, N. & Duncan, G. 1989. Bulbous plants of southern
Africa. A guide to their cultivation and propagation. Tafelberg,
Free State NBG
With additions by Yvonne Reynolds