Gloriosa superba L.

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Gloriosa superba

Photo: Bart Wursten
Vumba Gateway garden

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Bart Wursten
Ndundu Lodge, Vumba

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Petra Ballings
National Botanic Garden, Harare

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Bart Wursten
Near Rhino Hotel, Old Runde Bridge.

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Bart Wursten
Near Rhino Hotel, Old Runde Bridge.

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Mark Hyde
Harry Pichanick Drive, Alexandra Park, Harare

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Mark Hyde
Harry Pichanick Drive, Alexandra Park, Harare

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Mark Hyde
Harry Pichanick Drive, Alexandra Park, Harare

Gloriosa superba

Photo: Gerry Brown
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Gloriosa carsonii Baker
Gloriosa lutea Hort.
Gloriosa simplex L.
Gloriosa virescens Lindl.
Common names: Amakukhulume (Ndebele) Flame lily (English) Kajongwe (Shona) Matalamanda (Tonga: Zimbabwe) Unyawolwenkukhu (Ndebele)
Description: Erect or scandent herb, with annual stems growing from an elongated, often forked corm. Stems up to c. 3 m long in climbing plants, much shorter when erect. Leaves numerous, opposite, whorled or alternate along the stem, variable from linear to broadly ovate, 6-15 cm long excluding an often tendrillous, coiled apex up to 7 cm long. Flowers axillary on a pedicel, 9-13 cm, bent near the apex. Tepals much reflexed, oblanceolate or spathulate, 5-8.3 cm long more or less strongly undulate margins. Flower colour very variable, cream, yellow, orange, red, maroon or purple-brown, many forms with yellow margins on the tepals.
Notes: The well-known red and yellow woodland variety from the highveld has earned it its common name. This is the national flower of Zimbabwe. Many colour and plant varieties exist, such as the form with wide, smooth plum-coloured petals, known mostly from the lowveld; orange forms are known from the western lowveld and Botswana; pure yellow forms are found in the Eastern Highlands. Some varieties were formerly described as separate species but are now regarded as belonging to one highly variable species, characterised by the tendril-bearing leaves.
Derivation of specific name: superba: superb, proud, referring to the spectacular flowers
Flowering time:Dec - Feb
Worldwide distribution: Throughout tropical Africa, Asia and Indian Ocean islands.
Growth form(s): Climber.
Insects associated with this species: spilosoma lineata (Larval foodplant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Bandeira, S., Bolnick, D. & Barbosa, F. (2007). Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique Page 54. (Includes a picture).

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 202 - 203. also as Gloriosa carsonii (Includes a picture).

Bolnick, D. (2007). A Guide to the Common Wild Flowers of Zambia and Neighbouring Regions Revised Edition. WECS, Lusaka, Zambia Page 63. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 294. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 28.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 18.

Fabian, A. & Germishuizen, G. (1997). Wild Flowers of Northern South Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeburg. Pages 36 - 37. (Includes a picture).

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 120. (Includes a picture).

La Croix, I. (2009). Colchicaceae Flora Zambesiaca 12(2) Pages 182 - 185. (Includes a picture).

Linley, K. & Baker, B. (1972). Flowers of the Veld Bundu Series Longman Zimbabwe Pages 12 - 13. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 86.

Maroyi, A (2002). Colchicaceae in Zimbabwe Kirkia 18(1) Page 3.

Maroyi, A. (2012). The genus Gloriosa (Colchicaceae) - ethnobotany, phylogeny and taxonomy Wageningen University, Netherlands Pages 1 - 194. (Includes a picture).

Moriarty, A. (1975). Wild Flowers of Malawi Purnell & sons Cape Town. Page 20. Also as Gloriosa virescens (Includes a picture).

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32

Pickering, H. & Roe, E. (2009). Wild Flowers of the Victoria Falls Area Helen Pickering, London Page 49. (Includes a picture).

Plowes, D.C.H. & Drummond, R.B. (1990). Wild Flowers of Zimbabwe. Revised edition. Longman, Zimbabwe. No. 3, plate 13,14 & 15

Pooley, E. (1998). A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust. Durban. Pages 26 - 27. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 117.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 25.

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 69.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 181.

Vinnersten, A. & Manning, J. (2007). A new classification of Colchicaceae. Taxon 56 Pages 171 - 178.

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 81.

Other sources of information about Gloriosa superba:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Caprivi: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Gloriosa superba
Flora of Malawi: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Mozambique: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Zambia: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Zimbabwe: Gloriosa superba

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Gloriosa superba
African Plant Database: Gloriosa superba
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Gloriosa superba
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Gloriosa superba
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Gloriosa superba
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Gloriosa superba
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Gloriosa superba
JSTOR Plant Science: Gloriosa superba
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Gloriosa superba
Plants of the World Online: Gloriosa superba
Tropicos: Gloriosa superba
Wikipedia: Gloriosa superba

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Cultivated Plants: Species information: Gloriosa superba., retrieved 30 May 2024

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