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.

Watsonia aletroides (Burm. f.) Ker-Gawl.

Cormous perennial with sword-shaped leaves and mostly unbranched stems bearing up to 12 tubular orange-red flowers in winter or spring.  To 60cm.  [RHSE, CECB].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The name of Watsonia was first given by Miller in honour of our friend, the late Sir William Watson and was adopted by Jussieu in that invaluable work his Genera Plantarum, and will be found to form a very natural genus, sufficiently distinct from Antholyza.  This very elegant species, which does not appear to have been noticed by Willdenow, is readily distinguished from every other by the distinct form of the corolla, which strongly resembles some species of Aletris, Lachenalia, and Aloe.  The alternate segments are interior; the bulb is compressed and tunicated.  It is very subject to vary, having in one instance a single scape six to eight inches high, with three or four distant, sometimes one-ranked, flowers; in another, a three or four branched stem two feet high, with a terminal spike of from twenty to thirty closely imbricated distich flowers, and adpressed spikelets in proportion.  The same bulb will one year produce pale pink, the next deep crimson, and the following year variegated or striped corollas, as in the figure, always scentless.’  [BM t.533/1801]. 

Introduced to Britain in 1774.  [JD]. 

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.444/1843].


Published Nov 18, 2009 - 04:13 PM | Last updated Jul 25, 2010 - 03:17 PM

Figured is a sword-shaped leaf and spike of tubular red flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.533, 1801.

Watsonia aletroides (Burm. f.) Ker-Gawl. | BM t.533/1801 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

South Africa, Cape district

  • Antholyza merianella Curt.
  • Antholyza aletroides Burm.
  • Gladiolus tubulosus Jacq.
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Watsonia aletroides 

Confidence level high