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.

Sparaxis tricolor (Schneev.) Ker-Gawl.

Cormous perennial with basal fans of erect lance-shaped leaves and 1-5 stems of up to 6, flattish, widely funnel-shaped, usually orange, red or purple flowers, with a purple-black or dark red central mark, in spring and summer.  A white form is also grown, with a yellow throat, edged with crimson-purple.  To 40cm.  [RHSE, CECB, Hortus].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘We do not remember ever to have been so forcibly struck with the beautiful appearance of a flower, as with that of the present Ixia, nor do we recollect any one that can boast colours at once so various, so brilliant, and so pleasing; placed by the side of the Amaryllis formosissima, sarniensis, vittata, the Cistus formosus, Pelargonium tricolor, or a hundred other plants of the more beautiful sorts, the eye would be fixed by this alone. […] Though new to this country, this plant has been known some years to the Dutch, we find it in their catalogues under the name of Ixia stellata tricolor; no doubt they received it from the Cape.  This species is propagated with the same ease that most of the Ixias are, and requires the same management, - to be planted in a pot of bog-earth and secured from frost.  It has ripened seeds with me at Brompton; one capsule contained ten.’  [BM t.381/1797].  BM t.1482/1812.

‘Introduced in 1789.  Its flowers are most splendid in their vividly contrasted colours, and it is a great ornament of the greenhouse when in perfection; or it may be kept very well in a border close to the front of the stove.’  [LBC no.1903/1833]. FC p.73/1833.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.415/1843].  Naturalised in a range of colours on the grassy slope known as Blarney Bank in the Camden Park garden.


Published Nov 18, 2009 - 10:25 AM | Last updated Jul 24, 2010 - 05:12 PM

Shown is a lance-shaped leaf and orange flowers, marked brown and yellow in the centre. Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.381, 1797.

Sparaxis tricolor (Schneev.) Ker-Gawl. | BM t.381/1797 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

South Africa, Cape district

  • Ixia tricolor Schneev. 
Common Name

Velvet flower

Name in the Camden Park Record

Sparaxis tricolor 

Confidence level high