Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Cyanella hyacinthoides L.

Cormous perennial with up to 8 basal leaves, to 30cm long, with wavy margins, and branched flower stems each with up to 10, lightly fragrant, pale lilac or blue-lilac flowers, rarely white, often with a carmine blotch at the base.  To 40cm.  [RHSD, CECB]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘It has a small bulbous root, a little like a crocus, which is sometimes roasted and eaten by the Hottentots.’  [LBC no.732/1823].  Introduced to Britain in 1768 [JD], although both Andrews Botanical Repository and Curtis’s Botanical Magazine speculate that the plant described by Miller at this time was not the true Cyanella capensis, this being introduced a little later.  [ABR pl.141/1801].  ‘This is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, growing spontaneously at the foot of the Table Mountain.  The conical bulbs about the size of those of Crocus verna are said to be edible when roasted.  [BM t.568/1802]. 

History at Camden Park

Cyanella capensis was only listed in the 1845 and 1850 catalogues.  It was presumably lost, although it seems to thrive in the Camden area in a pot with no special attention required and offsets and seeds readily.  This species is naturalised in Western Australia. 


Published Jan 16, 2009 - 03:14 PM | Last updated Jul 31, 2010 - 04:51 PM

Depicted are the lance-shaped leaves and a spindly stem with small violet flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.568, 1802.

Cyanella hyacinthoides L. | BM t.568/1802 | BHL

Family Tecophilaeaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

  • Cyanella capensis L. 

Common Name

Cyanella capensis L.

Name in the Camden Park Record

Cyanella capensis 

Confidence level high