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|This week will is devoted to flowers from various places.|
Species: Scadoxus multiflorus
Popular name: fireball Lily or Blood Lily.
Scadoxus used to be included in the genus Haemanthus, but is now regarded as distinct. Scadoxus was named by Rafinesque, who commented "umb. glor.", which could be taken to mean glorious umbel, which is very apt. However, in Greek doxus does mean glorious, but sca means obscure, which rather confuses the issue. The specific name multiflorus means many flowered in Latin, which is self explanatory, and katharinae is after Katharine Saunders, the well-known botanical artist.. Its former name, Haemanthus translates to blood flower, from haima, blood, and anthos, a flower (Greek), referring to the colour of the spathe and filaments in some species of Haemanthus.
Scadoxus multiflorus ssp katharinae is an evergreen rhizomatous perennial, producing up to nine leaves per season whose tubular leaf bases form a pseudostem, a false stem formed by the sheathing leaf bases which overlap closely and are pressed flat against each other. The pseudostem is sturdy and fleshy with a diameter of up to 25 mm, and is usually purple spotted but can be plain and almost white.
The leaves are large and thin-textured with a distinct midrib and an undulating margin. They encircle the pseudostem giving a single plant an overall symmetric shape. The leaves of a well-grown plant can stand up to 70 cm high with a spread of up to 110 cm.
The spectacular flowerhead is a huge spherical umbel consisting of up to 200 flowers, held clear of the foliage at the end of a solitary stem. Each plant will produce only one flowerhead in a season. A flowerhead can reach a diameter of 25 cm and a height of 110 cm, nearly waist height. Each flower is pinkish-orange-red with protruding stamens carrying bright yellow anthers. The flowerheads last for 1 or 2 weeks and make superb cut flowers. Flowering is in late summer to early autumn (December-March). The seed develops in the inferior ovary which is visible as a swelling of the flower stalk below the flower, at the tip of the pedicel. These will swell to form a green berry that will turn scarlet as it ripens during winter-spring (July - September). These decorative berries can remain on the plant for up to 2 months.
Scadoxus multiflorus has a wide distribution and varying habitat and is found predominantly in tropical Africa but its range extends from the Eastern Cape in South Africa, through KwaZulu-Natal, all four northern provinces of South Africa, into Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana and throughout all but the very driest regions of tropical Africa. It occurs in lowland to mountain forest, secondary forest, forest margins, savannah woodland, open grassland and is very common in the shade of trees at river banks. Scadoxus multiflorus ssp katharinae occurs in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Mpumalanga, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
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