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Crocosmia

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Template:Italic title Template:Hatnote Template:Taxobox Crocosmia (Template:IPAc-en; J. E. Planchon, 1851)<ref>Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607</ref> (montbretia)<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> is a small genus of flowering plants in the iris family, Iridaceae. It is native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa, ranging from South Africa to Sudan. One species is endemic to Madagascar.<ref name=prettyflowers>Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families</ref>

They can be evergreen or deciduous perennials that grow from basal underground corms. The alternate leaves are cauline and ensiform (sword shaped). The blades are parallel-veined. The margin is entire. The corms are unusual in forming vertical chains with the youngest at the top and oldest and largest buried most deeply in the soil [1]. The roots of the lowermost corm in a chain are contractile roots and drag the corm deeper into the ground where conditions allow. The chains of corms are fragile and easily separated, a quality that has enabled some species to become invasive and difficult to control in the garden.

They have colourful inflorescences of 4 to 20 vivid red and orange subopposite flowers on a divaricately (horizontally) branched stem. The terminal inflorescence can have the form of a cyme or a raceme. These flower from early summer well into fall. The flowers are sessile on a flexuose arched spike. The fertile flowers are hermaphroditic. All stamens have an equal length. The style branches are apically forked. They are pollinated by insects, birds (hummingbirds) or by the wind. The dehiscent capsules are shorter than they are wide.

They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars, and in the United Kingdom as montbretia. Other names, for hybrids and cultivars, include antholyza, and curtonus. The genus name is derived from the Greek words krokos, meaning "saffron", and osme, meaning "odor" - from the fact that dried leaves of these plants emit a strong smell like that of saffron (a spice derived from Crocus - another genus belonging to the Iridaceae) - when immersed in hot water.<ref name=Goldblatt2008>Template:Cite book</ref>

Contents

Cultivation

Crocosmias are grown worldwide, and more than 400 cultivars have been produced. Some hybrids have become invasive species, especially C. x crocosmiiflora hybrids, which are invasive in the UK, New Zealand, the American Pacific Northwest, and probably elsewhere.

Crocosmia are winter-hardy in temperate regions. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

Species

Species accepted by World Checklist of Selected Plant Families<ref name=prettyflowers/>

  1. Crocosmia ambongensis (H.Perrier) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning - Madagascar
  2. Crocosmia aurea (Pappe ex Hook.) Planch. (Falling Stars) - eastern + southern Africa from Cape Province to Sudan; naturalized in Azores
  3. Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora (Lemoine) N.E.Br. - South Africa; naturalised in parts of Europe, Rwanda, Zaire, Assam, Norfolk Island in Australia, Fiji, the Caribbean, Argentina, Tristan da Cunha (C. aurea × C. pottsii)
  4. Crocosmia fucata (Lindl.) M.P.de Vos - Kamiesberg Mountains in Cape Province of South Africa
  5. Crocosmia masoniorum (L.Bolus) N.E.Br. (Giant Montbretia) - Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal
  6. Crocosmia mathewsiana (L.Bolus) Goldblatt ex M.P.de Vos - Drakensberg Mountains in Mpumalanga
  7. Crocosmia paniculata (Klatt) Goldblatt (Aunt-Eliza) - Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa
  8. Crocosmia pearsei Oberm. - Lesotho, Free State, Drakensberg Mountains in Mpumalanga
  9. Crocosmia pottsii (Baker) N.E.Br. (Pott's Montbretia) - Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal

Garden hybrids

Cultivars

  • 'Lucifer' (Crocosmia x curtonus) scarlet

References

Template:Reflist

  • De Vos, M. P. (1999) "Crocosmia". Flora of Southern Africa 7: 129-138.
  • Peter Goldblatt, John Manning, Gary Dunlop, Auriol Batten - Crocosmia and Chasmanthe (Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector Guide)
  • Kostelijk, P.J. (1984) "Crocosmia in gardens". The Plantsman 5: 246-253.
  • This page was last modified on 23 February 2016, at 11:17.
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