23 March 2013

Sparaxis tricolor

I planted these Sparaxis tricolor corms last autumn in fertile, well drained soil and placed them in a sunny spot.  Their flowering period is said to be in late spring but owing to the mild climate here in Tunisia they have flowered earlier.  They are said to be sensitive to frost and can only be grown outside in mild climates.  When the leaves have withered and browned off in the summer, the corms can be lifted and dried and replanted again in the autumn.  I am glad that I took the above photographs when I did as already the colours of the Sparaxis tricolor are not as intense as they were earlier in the week.  Their beauty seems ephemeral, lasting only a short time.

Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower) is a genus in the family Iridaceae with about 13 species endemic to Cape Province, South AfricaAll are perennials that grow during the wet winter season, flower in spring and survive underground as dormant corms over summer. Their conspicuous flowers have six tepals, which in most species are equal in size and shape.  Sparaxis tricolor has bright red flowers with yellow and black centres.  The genus name is derived from the Greek word sparasso, meaning "to tear", and alludes to the shape of the floral bracts.

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