As summer touches autumn the South African flora rises to the challenge of shorter days and cooler temperatures. Observe the Gladiolus dalenii in the border south of the Arid Land House. From a dry corm the sword like growth reaches 1.2 metres with the flower stalk splitting up through the leaves which act as a protective sheath.
This species has a wide geographical spread; South and East Africa to Arabia. It is also variable in flower colour. This was collected from Bushman’s Nek, Natal Province, South Africa in 1975 by the late Bill Burtt. The herbaceous corms we grow have striated orange flowers with a delicate green inner lip. Catch the anthers at the right time and the pollen will leave a purple smear on your finger. Introduced into Europe in 1825 this species was used as a parent to produce the cultivars sold as dry corms in the spring. Unlike the species these will not overwinter in the ground and then produce successful flower spikes the following year.