Threatened Plant Species – Dierama pallidum

IRIDACEAE: Dierama pallidum [Vulnerable]

Dierama pallidum is a beautiful brightly colored plant found between Pietermaritzburg and Durban (Table Mountain, Valley of Thousand Hills, Mt. Vernon, Noodsberg and Inchanga). It grows on open stony and sandy grass slopes.

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family, Iridaceae. Botanists rarely (if ever) use common names for plants, however, various species of Dierama are loosely known by common names such as Fairy’s Fishing Rods, Fairy’s Wands, Fairy Bells, Wedding Bells, Hairbells, Harebells. You will have noticed their similarities which refer to the bell-shaped flowers on slender scapes that bend gracefully under the weight of the inflorescences, nodding in the wind.

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum consists of either a single stem or a few growing in close groups. They have few and reduced enveloping leaves (about 4) which arise so close to the base of the stem they almost appear to come from the roots.

They have flowering stems that grow between 500–1000 mm. The inflorescence hang, with the lowermost flower stalk growing about 200 mm long. Flowers are somewhat crowded (tip of each bract reaching to or nearly to base of second bract above it). Dierama pallidum can be seen flowering from October to March.

Dierama pallidum

Dierama pallidum

Bracts are about 20 mm long and 8 mm wide, narrowly egg-shaped and gradually narrowing to a long point on the tip, white with specks on midline and at the tip. Perianth (flora) is about 16 mm, tepals about 10 mm long and 5 mm wide, cream to pale yellow, rarely tinged pink or purple. Dierama pallidum is related to Dierama sertum, but can be distinguished by its white bracts where the veins diminish in the upper parts; flowers are crowded.

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

REFERENCE:

  • HILLIARD, O.M. AND BURTT, B.L. 1991. Dierama: The hairbells of Africa. Acorn Books, Johannesburg and London.
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