Boophane disticha

jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)November 19, 2003

Can someone tell me a little about this plant - I'd like to keep it around a while, and, if I understand correctly, it comes from a summer rainfall area whereas the rest of the Boophanes come from the winter rainfall area(s)? It certainly has remarkable leaves!

Thanks for your input.

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jimmb(Michigan US)

Jeffrey,

I've seen them growing wild in the Karoo where little rain falls in the summer. And they seemed to be thriving. I've also seen them in bloom, but only in a conservatory. That was late summer.

Yes, it is an impressive plant. I've just started one from a small bulb, and it took two months to get going. I've got one leaf an inch and a half long and another just emerging. A long way to go, to be sure!

Cheers,

Jim

    Bookmark   November 19, 2003 at 7:02PM
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cjhin(Gauteng ZA)

Jeffrey

I know this plant well. It grows wild around Johannesburg where I live and is found throughout the summer rainfall areas of SA. It is known here as the sore-eye lily or poison bulb. If the flowers are held close to the eyes for too long the eyes get sore (supposedly, never tried it!). The bulb is deciduous and the inflorescens with pink to red flowers emerges before the leaves or sometime together with the strap-shaped leaves in early summer. Apparently flowering is induced by fire. If you want to replicate this then do not remove the leaves when they die down at the end of the growing season and burn the dried leaves on the plant in early spring, the bulb will not be damaged. Don't pile wood on the bulb and light it because such a fire will be too hot. Veld fires in the grassveld areas of SA are fairly cool (as far as fire goes) and burn quickly. The leaves are arranged in a fan-like manner at the crown of the bulb. It does occur in grassland and bushveld areas that are adapted to regular wild fires. The inflorescens when dried almost looks like a tumbleweed and in fact the seeds are spread in this manner.

Johannesburg has cold winters with frost, so the plant should be able to survive in colder areas but I am not sure if it will survive prolonged cold periods with snow. It very very rarely snows in Johannesburg and the temperature rarely goes below -5 degrees celcius. It should be planted with at least half the bulb above the soil surface. It should also not be moved once planted since this will discourage flowering, so don't dig it up, rather plant it in a pot with a well-drained soil. Also don't water after its leaves have died down, it will rot. It is also fairly drought-resistant so it does not require much water in the growing season.

Regards
Charles

    Bookmark   November 20, 2003 at 1:57AM
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