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Monday, August 12, 2013

Weeping Anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae)

Family Anthericaceae
Description
C. saundersiae is a gregarious (growing in groups or colonies) and spreading perennial herb which forms thick stands or clumps.

The plant grows up to 400 mm high and has a bushy grass-like appearance, with leaves forming a basal rosette. It has long thin roots without tubers (tubers are found in other Chlorophytum species such as C. comosum ‘hen-and-chickens').

 Leaves are light green, linear (strap-shaped) and gradually tapering, 300–400 mm long and 10 mm wide.


The inflorescence has numerous small, white, star-shaped flowers. The flowers have folded-back tepals (members of a floral envelope not clearly differentiated into calyx and corolla) and prominent elongated yellow anthers. The inflorescence is a congested raceme (with flowers on stalks arranged along an unbranched axis, the terminal flower being the youngest) and is carried on long drooping (‘weeping') stalks.

The plant flowers from October to March.

The fruit is a small, green to brown, globose capsule containing numerous black, angular seeds.

C. saundersiae grows very quickly and is also spreading. It is a perennial and will not die back during the winter. It looks like a grass but is more closely related to the Asparagus or Aloe families.
 Distribution and habitat

C. saundersiae occurs naturally in KZN, Swaziland and parts of the Eastern Cape (i.e. it is endemic to South Africa). It is found in coastal forest, usually in low grassland near river mouths which become inundated at times. It is frost tolerant but occurs naturally in subtropical areas where frost is not common.

Ecology

The white flowers of C. saundersiae attract butterflies, bees and other small insects.

Uses and cultural aspects

Chlorophytum saundersiae is a popular garden plant and is used extensively by landscape gardeners. It has a pleasing grass-like appearance making it a good ‘filler' in flower beds. It is hardy and gregarious.

C. saundersiae is not medicinal and not poisonous. Pet owners may find that some cats like to eat the leaves for digestion.