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.

Lachenalia bulbifera (Cirillo) Engl.

Half-hardy, robust bulbous perennial with strap-like, semi-erect, brown-purple spotted leaves and loose racemes of few to many pendant, cylindrical red or orange flowers with green and purple tips.  To 30cm.  [RHSE, CECB, Hortus].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘It is a beautiful spring flowering plant of easy culture thriving best in not too small pots, and in rich loamy soil.’  [LBC no.267, 1818]. 

‘Though somewhat less brilliant in the colour of its flowers than the quadricolour, No.588, this species, from its more compact growth, forms a no less desirable plant.  Flowers in April and May.  Propagates easily by offsets from its bulbs.  We are told in Hort. Kew. that it was introduced into the royal collection by Mr. Masson, in 1774; but since this time it has been frequently imported both from Holland and immediately from the Cape.  Our figure was drawn from a specimen in the collection of Edward Woodford, Esq. at Vauxhall.  In Jacquin’s figure the colours are not exactly the same as ours, and the whole plant is more slender.  We were favoured, by Mr. Williams, of Turnham-Green, with a specimen more resembling this of Jacquin’s, which we suppose to be a mere variety of our plant.’  [BM t.590/1802]. 

Lachenalia quadricolor Jacq. was considered a synonym of L. pendula by Willdenough, but as a distinct species by Andrews.  [ABR pl.148/1801].  In Macarthur’s time there was also a variety, maculata.  [PD].  ABR pl.41/1799.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.293/1843].  Received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831.  [MP A2948].


Published Jan 07, 2010 - 02:00 PM | Last updated Jan 07, 2010 - 02:07 PM

Shown are strap-like leaves and raceme of pendant, cylindrical red and yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.590, 1802.

Lachenalia bulbifera (Cirillo) Engl. | BM t.590/1802 | BHL

Family Hyacinthaceae
Region of origin

South Africa, Cape district

  • Lachenalia pendula Ait.
  • Phormium bulbiferum Cirillo 
Common Name

Cape cowslips

Name in the Camden Park Record

Lachenalia pendula 

Confidence level high