ISI 2013-17. Bulbine torta N. E. Br.

This geophytic, bulb-like plant actually persists during the dry summer season as thick, fleshy, fusiform roots. During the winter growing season it produces a tuft of sinuous, slender leaves that radiate from the base like Medusa’s hairdo. (Too much shade and water will have the effect of a flattening iron, so strong light is recommended for the best contortions.) This too may serve as a fog-collection mechanism like the spiraled leaves of a number of other South African bulbs. The flowers are typical of the genus, with large bearded stamens that give the allusion to pollinators that there is more pollen present than there really is. We offer HBG 109994, seedlings from controlled pollination of a collection originating from the vicinity of Sutherland, one of the coldest towns in South Africa. Therefore, this plant should tolerate subfreezing temperatures and should at least be root-hardy to near 0°F. $7.

Photo © 2013 by Tim Harvey. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 85 (2), March - April, 2013