Gladiolus carmineus (Cliff gladiolus, Hermanus
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> Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering
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> Family: Iridaceae > Genus:
Gladiolus carmineus flowering in summer in
coastal strandveld at Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo
Information is mainly from Goldblatt and Manning (1998).
Distribution and habitat
Endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa, where it has a
restricted coastal distribution from Pringle Bay in the west to Cape Infanta in
the east. Plants grown within sight of the sea on outcrops of sandstone, often
- A geophyte, with corms measuring 20-25 mm in diameter, usually wedged in
cracks in rock.
- Flowers from mid-February to late March.
- The main photosynthetic leaves are not produced at the same time as the
flower. Leaves on the flowering stem are reduced and usually bladeless.
Foliage leaves are produced in the wet winter by plants that did not flower
that year. By the time the plant does come round to flowering again, these
foliage leaves have withered, died and decayed.
Based on the colour and shape of the flower, pollination is
probably by the Table Mountain pride butterfly
Aeropetes tulbaghia, but there are no observation of this.
Derivation of names
- carmineus means carmine in Latin, in reference to the reddish
colour of the flowers (more deep pink).
- Hermanus is a town on the coast within the distribution of Gladiolus
carmineus, hence the common name 'Hermanus gladiolus'. The town is one
of the best places from which to observe
Southern right whales because the whales come in very close to the sea
cliffs. It is on these cliffs that Gladiolus carmineus can be
observed although it flowers in late summer, early spring (February-March)
whereas the whales are present along the coast in late winter and spring
(July to September).
- Goldblatt P. and Manning J. 1998. Gladiolus in Southern Africa.
Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.