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Gladiolus brevifolius (March pypie, Autumn pipes)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Asparagales > Family: Iridaceae > Genus: Gladiolus

Gladiolus brevifolius Gladiolus brevifolius

Gladiolus brevifolius flowering in winter on the southern Cape Peninsula, South Africa. [photo Colin Paterson-Jones ]

Gladiolus brevifolius. [photo H.G. Robertson, Iziko ]


Information is from Goldblatt and Manning (1998).

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa, occurring in the southwestern parts, from Piketberg to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to the Agulhas plain and to Montagu. A common autumn flowering species in this region. Grows in a wide range of soil types from sand to clay.

Life cycle

  • A geophyte, with a corm measuring 18-35 mm in diameter.
  • Flowers from March to April, sometimes also in February. The leave of the flowering stem do not have blades, being short and sheathed against the stem.
  • A bladed leaf grows from a separate shoot during the wet winter and it is this leaf that functions best for photosynthesis.

Ecological interactions


The pollinators feed on the nectar of the flowers and include:

  • bees
    • Amegilla fallax
    • Amegilla spilostoma
    • Allodape sp.
  • flies
    • Acroceridae > Psilodera valida

Meaning of name

brevifolius is Latin for "short leaves", and refers to the size of the leaves on the flowering stem.


  • Goldblatt P. and Manning J. 1998. Gladiolus in Southern Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.
  • Goldblatt P., Manning J.C. and Bernhardt P. 1997. Notes on the pollination of Gladiolus brevifolius (Iridaceae) by bees (Anthophoridae) and bee mimicking flies (Psilodera: Acroceridae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 70(4): 297-304.

Text by Hamish Robertson

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