Gloriosa superba is the one species on this genus within the autumn-crocus household (Colchicaceae). With varied widespread names together with gloriosa lily, glory lily, hearth lily, flame lily, climbing lily, creeping lily, and cat’s claw or tiger’s claw, this extremely variable, deciduous, summer-growing tuberous plant from tropical and southern Africa and temperate and tropical Asia (from China to India) is grown as a perennial in gentle climates (zones Eight-12) and as a summer season “bulb” in colder areas for its dramatic flowers. Not a real lily (household Liliaceae), it grows naturally in all kinds of habitats from forests to thickets to grasslands and even in sand dunes and different nutrient-poor soils. Like different members of the Colchicaceae, all components of this plant are toxic, containing excessive ranges of the poisonous alkaloid colchicine, however particularly within the tubers, and will be deadly to people and animals if sufficient is ingested. In decrease doses it has been used as a standard drugs taken internally or topically for all kinds of issues and continues to be cultivated in India or collected within the wild elsewhere by many cultures for medicinal use. This plant is the nationwide flower of Zimbabwe, however is taken into account a noxious weed in some place comparable to Australia, some Pacific islands, and a few components of the US.
One to 4 slender stems which typically develop 1-6 ft lengthy (however will be as much as 15 ft beneath best situations) emerge from a fleshy, red-brown, elongated, typically forked tuberous rhizome in spring. The quite a few, tender, oval- to spear-shaped, shiny emerald inexperienced leaves are typically produced alternately alongside the stems, however typically are reverse or whorled, too. Every sessile leaf has robust, parallel veins and tapers on the tip right into a 1¼-2” inch lengthy coiling, clinging tendril which permits this scrambling plant to ascend different vegetation or buildings. The stems die again in late summer season or fall.
The showy, solitary flowers seem from mid-summer to fall on pedicels (flower stalks) as much as 7½ inches lengthy within the leaf axils. Most varieties have nodding flowers, however some varieties arch upward once they open. Every single flower has six extensively separated, reflexed (bent backwards in order that they’re pointing upwards) tepals (three petals and three sepals 2-Three inches lengthy which all seem related), six lengthy outward-spreading stamens (as much as 1½ inches lengthy) with giant yellow anthers, and a distinguished trifurcate type as much as 2 inches lengthy bent sharply outwards from the purpose of attachment to the inexperienced ovary.
The tepals are most frequently vivid purple to orange, typically with yellowish bases, however may additionally be cream, yellow, purple-red or bicolor, and sometimes the colours deepen with age. The tepal margins could also be very wavy or curling. Of their native habitat flowers are probably pollinated by butterflies and sunbirds. Pollinated flowers are adopted by giant, fleshy, rectangular fruits (leathery, Three-valved capsules containing about 20 rounded purple seeds) 2 to 4½ inches lengthy.
Develop gloriosa lily in full solar within the floor or in containers. Plant the tubers in wealthy, well-drained soil after the final frost (or begin indoors earlier and transfer outdoors after final frost), putting them fastidiously (they’re fairly brittle) in a horizontal place, 2-Four inches deep. The deeper they’re planted (and the less vitamins supplied) the shorter the vines and extra erect the plant will be. Hold evenly moist when rising, and fertilize with dilute fertilizer month-to-month when in leaf. Fertilizing will encourage bigger flowers, but additionally extra vegetative progress. Present a thin-wire trellis for the vines to climb, or place close to one other plant they will scramble via and up. The stems will be broken and progress stopped if dealt with an excessive amount of to coach or redirect them.
Though typically grown as an annual, tubers will be lifted after the vegetation flower and earlier than first frost to dry and retailer over the winter in a cool location. Nevertheless, as a result of the tubers are brittle, it’s typically a lot simpler to go away the tubers in containers year-round, sinking the pots to the rim within the backyard within the late spring and digging the entire thing within the fall to convey indoors, or simply utilizing them as patio plant seasonally. This plant may also be used as a houseplant in a vivid, sunny window, however will must be pressured into dormancy after bloom by tapering watering to dry out over the winter. This plant does greatest with cool nighttime temperatures (60’s) and reasonable daytime temperatures (70s).
Though gloriosa lily will be propagated from seed, most decorative plantings are grown from the tuberous rhizomes which will be divided no extra often than each three years. Tubers ought to stay dormant via the winter, with new progress rising slowly in late spring or early summer season, then speedy progress as soon as the climate warms. Seed germination is erratic and even after stratification might take as much as a yr to germinate, and it’ll take Three-Four years for brand spanking new vegetation to flower.
Named cultivars embrace:
- ‘Citrina’ – has yellow tepals with maroon stripes.
- ‘Grandiflora’ – has giant golden yellow flowers.
- ‘Lutea’ – has all yellow flowers.
- ‘Nana’- is a dwarf type.
- ‘Rothschildiana’ – has wavy-edged, strongly reflexed vivid purple or scarlet tepals with yellow close to the bottom and alongside the margins, and vivid inexperienced stamens. This selection, named after Lionel Walter, the second Baron Rothschild, who’s credited with bringing the flower to Europe from Africa, is usually supplied as Gloriosa rothschildiana.
- ‘Simplex’ – has deep orange and yellow flowers
– Susan Mahr, College of Wisconsin – Madison
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