Threatened Plant Species – Dierama luteo-albidum

IRIDACEAE: Dierama luteo-albidum [Vulnerable]

The genus name is derived from the Greek word dierama, meaning “funnel”, a helpful hint to the shape of the flower. Dierama luteo-albidum is a beautiful plant that appears to be confined to a very area of south central Natal growing in open grassland at altitudes of about 915−1700 m, from Nottingham Road to Pietermaritzburg.

r-spring-dierama-luteoalbidium1

Dierama luteo-albidum is readily distinguished from all other known species in Natal. They are solitary or in small clumps. The plant is 0.65−1 m long and is the fourth species of Dierama and first with whitish flowers.  The corm is densely covered with fiber tunic. Stems are long and drooping. Leaves have a cover at base, 3−4 leaves closely covering the stem and leaf bracts white to lightly flecked.

Dierama luteo-albidum flowers between October to December. Flowering stalks are very slender, and are closely sheathed to the lowest branch of the inflorescence by the leaves. Inflorescence (part of the plant bearing flowers and bracts) 2−5 branched, ± 5-flowered; about 80 mm. Perianth (floral organs) white, pale cream yellow, parallel sided and bell shaped.

Two species D. pulcherrimum and D. grandiflorum are similar to D. luteo-albidum. All of them have large bell-shaped flowers, but they all differ in the colour of the perianth.

Dierama luteo-albidum by Isabel Johnson

Dierama luteo-albidum by Isabel Johnson

They are unfortunately threatened by forestry and heavy grazing on grasslands.

If you have seen this plant, please contact Mbali Mkhize, CREW programme: KZN Node Project Assistant m.mkhize@botanicalsociety.org.za

References:

  • Hilliard, O.M. and Burtt, B.L. 1991. Dierama: The hairbells of Africa. Acorn Books, Johannesburg and London.
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Verd, I.1942. Dierama luteo-albidum: Flowering Plants of South Africa xxii. t. 845.
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