Watsonia borbonica

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Watsonia borbonica
Starr 070308-5443 Watsonia borbonica.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Ixioideae
Tribe: Watsonieae
Species:W. borbonica
Binomial name
Watsonia borbonica

Watsonia borbonica, the Cape bugle-lily, [1] is a species of plant in the family Iridaceae that is native to South Africa.

Iridaceae family of plants

Iridaceae is a family of plants in order Asparagales, taking its name from the irises, meaning rainbow, referring to its many colours. There are 66 accepted genera with a total of c. 2244 species worldwide. It includes a number of other well known cultivated plants, such as freesias, gladioli and crocuses.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.



Watsonia borbonica has two subspecies: W. borbonica subsp. ardernei, and subsp. borbonica. W. borbonica subsp. ardernei is named in honour of H.M. Arderne, the Cape Town businessman whose family established the Arderne Gardens in Claremont . This subspecies is best known for its white form that is well-established in cultivation. [2]

Subspecies taxonomic rank subordinate to species

In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living in different subdivisions of the species' range and varying from one another by morphological characteristics. A single subspecies cannot be recognized independently: a species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term is abbreviated subsp. in botany and bacteriology, ssp. in zoology. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.


The species grows from corms. It is dormant in summer and grows in winter, which is the rainy season in its native habitat. It has tall strap-like leaves growing in a fan arrangement. It may grow up to two metres tall. It flowers for up to 4–5 weeks in spring.


A corm, bulbo-tuber, or bulbotuber is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ that some plants use to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat (perennation).

Distribution and habitat

Watsonia borbonica grows in the winter-rainfall areas of the Western Cape of South Africa. It usually grows on slopes consisting of rocky sandstone or clay and granite. It may be found occasionally in sandy soils. [3]

Western Cape Province of South Africa on the south-western coast

The Western Cape is a province of South Africa, situated on the south-western coast of the country. It is the fourth largest of the nine provinces with an area of 129,449 square kilometres (49,981 sq mi), and the third most populous, with an estimated 6.6 million inhabitants in 2018. About two-thirds of these inhabitants live in the metropolitan area of Cape Town, which is also the provincial capital. The Western Cape was created in 1994 from part of the former Cape Province.

Sandstone A clastic sedimentary rock composed mostly of sand-sized particles

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized mineral particles or rock fragments.

Clay A finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals

Clay is a finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals with possible traces of quartz (SiO2), metal oxides (Al2O3, MgO etc.) and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure. Clays are plastic due to particle size and geometry as well as water content, and become hard, brittle and non–plastic upon drying or firing. Depending on the soil's content in which it is found, clay can appear in various colours from white to dull grey or brown to deep orange-red.


Watsonia borbonica is a good garden plant as it bears showy flowers. It needs well-drained soil and full sun. During the dormant phase it should be kept dry. [4]

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  1. "Watsonia borbonica". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA . Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  2. http://pza.sanbi.org/watsonia-borbonica
  3. Nonkenge, S., Notten, A. "Watsonia borbonica". SANBI. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  4. "Watsonia" . Retrieved 11 April 2013.