Brunsvigia

Family: Amaryllidaceae
Habitat: Arid areas of southern Africa.
Cultivation: Not so easy, pay attention to watering, put them in a bright spot, and shelter them in Winter.
Curiosity: The name Brunsvigia was first published in 1755 by Lorenz Heisters (1683-1758), a botanist and professor of medicine at the University of Helmstädt. It honours Karl, the Sovereign of Braunschweig, who promoted the study of plants, including the beautiful Cape species B. orientalis.

KEY FEATURES

Brunsvigia is a genus of the family Amaryllidaceae and includes about 20 species of bulbous plants with flashy flowers, native to southern Africa, from Tanzania to the Cape provinces of South Africa.

Brunsvigias are perennial, deciduous plants, equipped with bulbs, subterranean or half exposed such as in B. herrei and B. josephinae.

During their blooming time in their natural habitat, these plants create a spectacular, coloured landscape, forming massive, coloured flowering colonies, which can extended as far as the eye can see.

Their natural habitat are semi-arid areas, in rocky outcrops.

When not blooming, Brunsvigias show only their leaves and are stemless. Leaves, smooth and green in colour, can be broad and oblong, lanceolate or tongue-shaped, depending on the species. In addition to the shape of their leaves, the different species of Brunsvigia can be distinguished for the number of them, ranging from the 2-3 leaves of B. namaquana to until 20 leaves in B. josephinae! Also, leaves are annual and are not present all year round. In Winter rainfall regions, they are produced after the flowers wither, while, in the summer rainfall region, they can be also be present along with the flowers, so that the vegetative season and the blooming one overlap.

The inflorescence are definitely the main reason why Brunsvingias are so sought after by succulent lovers. They are perfectly spherical, umbrella-like inflorescences and develop on an elongated stem.

Flowers range from scarlet red to pale pink, and have six petals, fused together at their base. Pink flowers can be found more frequently, while red ones are the peculiarity of a few species, like B. marginata and B. orientalis. They have a good scent and are also melliferous. The main pollinators are moths, butterflies and little sunbirds.

Flowers end up to form dry, ribbed capsules (the fruits) which contain numerous little, non-dormant seeds.

In the popular tradition, bulbs of Brunsvigias were used to increase the accuracy dice throwing in predictions. Of course that’s because they are rich in alkaloids, toxic molecules which, in some cases, show psychoactive properties.

VARIETY AND TYPES

Here below are some species of Brunsvigia. Check our online shop to find some of them!

  • B. bosmaniae
  • B. comptonii
  • B. elandsmontana
  • B. grandiflora
  • B. gregaria
  • B. herrei
  • B. humilis
  • B. insizwae
  • B. josephiniae
  • B. kirkii
  • B. litoralis
  • B. marginata
  • B. namaquana
  • B. natalensis
  • B. orientalis
  • B. pulchra
  • B. radula
  • B. radulosa
  • B. rosea
  • B. undulata

TIPS FOR GROWING

Brunsvigias are not the easiest plants to grow, however, with a little attention, they will thrive and reward you with their gorgeous inflorescences. Here are our advices:

  • Put your Brunsvigia in a bright spot, exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Shelter them in Winter, as they don’t tolerate low temperatures, when grown outside of their natural habitat
  • Pay attention to the irrigation, as the bulbs are subsceptible to rottenness: wait always for the soil to dry up before each watering.
  • Fertilization is not necessary, as Brunsvigias are used to poor soils.
  • Put your Brunsvigia in a deep pot, to host their bulb, and repot once a year.

Propagation can be carried out both through seeds and bulbs.

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