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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 26 | Iridaceae

11. Crocosmia Planchon, Fl. Serres Jard. Eur. 7: 161. 1851.

[Greek krokos, crocus, and osme, scent, because the dried flowers boiled in water smell like the spice saffron obtained from that plant]

Peter Goldblatt

Curtonus N. E. Brown

Herbs, perennial, from corms. Stems usually branched, branching often strongly divaricate. Leaves several, forming fan; blade plane [or plicate], ensiform. Inflorescences spicate, axes inclined to ± horizontal, 4–8-flowered[–many-flowered]; bracts orange to reddish [green], unequal, outer bract usually exceeding inner, inner bifid, firm textured. Flowers odorless, zygomorphic [actinomorphic]; tepals connate into tube, orange to red, subequal [unequal], outer tepals slightly larger than inner with dorsal largest [dorsal tepal much larger than others]; stamens unilateral; perianth tube funnel-shaped [nearly cylindric]; anthers parallel [radially disposed]; style arching over filaments [central], dividing into 3 filiform branches, usually notched apically [undivided]. Capsules globose, 3-lobed, cartilaginous. Seeds 2–4 per locule, globose [compressed]; seed coats hard, shiny or matte. x = 11.

Species 9 (1 in the flora): introduced; sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar.

In addition to Crocosmia ×crocosmiiflora, now naturalized, C. paniculata (Klatt) Goldblatt and C. masonorum (L. Bolus) N. E. Brown are grown in gardens. They may readily be distinguished by their broad, plicate leaves.

An artificial hybrid between two southern African species, Crocosmia aurea (Pappe ex Hooker f.) Planchon and C. pottsii (Macnab ex Baker) N. E. Brown, is now widely naturalized in the Neotropics, Madagascar, and locally in the Pacific Islands.


De Vos, M. P. 1984. The African genus Crocosmia Planchon. J. S. African Bot. 50: 463–502.

Lower Taxon


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