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.

Tigridia pavonia (L.f.) DC.

Bulbous perennial with a basal fan of lance-shaped leaves and a succession of iris-like, orange to pink, red, yellow or white flowers, mostly with contrasting central marks, borne on occasionally branched stems in summer.  To 1.5m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘It flowers in succession for a considerable time in the latter part of summer, though its splendid blossoms singly last but a few hours.’  [LBC no.1424/1830]. 

‘We are informed by [Cavanilles] that it grew wild about Mexico, and was much cultivated for its excessive beauty and for the medicinal virtues of its roots; being, as he terms it, “a Frigefacient” in fevers, and “also a promotor of fecundity in women”. […] For the posession of this superb flower, this country, and perhaps Europe, is indebted to Ellis Hodgson, Esq. of Everton, near Liverpool, with whom it flowered and produced ripe seeds about five years ago.  From this gentleman, seeds were communicated to Messrs. Grimwood and Wykes, and by them it has been dispersed among other Nurserymen.

There is little fear butt that it will soon become very common, as it flowers freely, produces seeds in abudance, and may be likewise increased by offsets fom the roots.  It has no scent, but in splendid beauty it appears to us, at least when assisted by rarity and singularity, to surpass every competitor.’  [BM t.532/1801].  Introduced to Britain in 1796.  [JD]. 

It was figured in Andrews’ Botanical Repository as Ferraria pavonia.  [ABR pl.178/1801].  Tigridia species are known as ‘el cacomite’ in Mexico and grown for food rather than ornament.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.426/1843].  Received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831.  [MP A2948-2].


Published Oct 19, 2009 - 03:34 PM | Last updated Jul 24, 2010 - 05:16 PM

Shown are lance-shaped leaves and red and yellow iris-like flower with red markings.  Curtis's botanical Magazine t.532, 1801.

Tigridia pavonia (L.f.) DC. | BM t.532/1801 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin


  • Ferraria tigridia Sims
  • Ferraria pavonia L.f.
Common Name

Peacock flower, Tiger flower, Shell flower

Name in the Camden Park Record

Tigridia pavonia 

Confidence level high