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welz_z_pentlandiiZantedeschia pentlandii
One of South Africa's most well loved bulbous plants is the common white arum lily, or Zantedeschia aethiopica to give it its scientific name. Commonly known as "Pig Lily", "Cape Arum", "Varkblom", "Varkoor", and "Aronskelk", amongst other local names, Zantedeschia aethiopica is common in many areas of the Western Cape where it usually frequents marshy habitats in full sun and is seen flowering in profusion from August until as late as January. This white arum also occurs in the summer rainfall areas of KwaZulu-Natal, in the Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and even in Lesotho and it is widely cultivated abroad as a pot plant in cold climates and outdoors in milder parts.

A lesser known, but much more beautiful arum lily is Zantedeschia pentlandii, a plant with a striking lemon chrome yellow petal like spathe with a dark purple blotch in the centre. There are two other yellow flowered arums, Zantedeschia jucunda from the Limpopo Province, and Zantedeschia elliottiana, the latter being a species which is only known in cultivation, its origin not yet having been found with certainty. At a glance, Zantedeschia. jucunda and Zantedeschia. elliottiana are at once distinguished from Zantedeschia. pentlandii in that Zantedeschia. pentlandii has unspotted leaves. The leaf shapes of these three species also differ from one another.

Unlike the common Zantedeschia aethiopica, Zantedeschia pentlandii has a rather restricted natural distribution in Mpumalanga, where it is found between rocks and beside streamlets on grassy mountains in the Belfast, Dullstroom and Lydenburg districts. The Tonteldoos Valley, near Dullstroom, is home to the delightful golden arum lily (Zantedeschia. pentlandii). The older generation recall the Tonteldoos Mountains beaming with yellow flowers in summer only 50 years ago; today the arums are a rare sight. They make excellent cut flowers - lasting for over a month - and were in great demand during the 1960's. Harvesters simply pulled the flowers out by the stem, and in less than a decade the beautiful lily nearly disappeared.

Its flowering period is November and December and, as with the other yellow-flowered species, it is a summer growing plant which dies down completely during the dry and cold winter months. Zantedeschia pentlandii is widely grown as a pot plant overseas, but here in its native South Africa, the complaint is often heard that the tuberous stems produce good leaves, but don't flower regularly.

At Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the plants have been found to require a rich, well drained soil containing plenty of well rotted compost, a full sun position and liberal watering during the summer growing months from October until the end of March. During the winter dormant period, the tuberous stems must be kept absolutely dry, and should be stored in dry soil at this time.

river lillyHesperantha coccinea (The River Lily) Hesperantha coccinea (The River Lily)

The name Hesperantha means 'evening flower'. The genus comprises 65 species which are distributed through both the summer and winter rainfall areas of South Africa. The River Lily Hesperantha coccinea is a species from the summer rainfall area and is widely distributed through the eastern provinces of the country. The species name coccinea means 'scarlet' and refers to the bright red flowers produced by this species. Until fairly recently this species was known by its old name Schizostylis coccinea.

It is a marvellous, water- loving, perennial bulbous plant. It occurs naturally in saturated soils on stream banks growing in full sun. Although the flowers are normally bright red, there are also pink and white forms.

The flowers are borne in profusion in summer during the warm and wet months between December and April. Hesperantha coccinea is a popular garden flower in the United Kingdom and Europe. It is also a good cut flower plant. Flowers are pollinated by a large butterfly (Aerpetes) and long proboscid flies.


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First Published: 01 March 2003
Last Updated: 01 January 2012


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