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Gladiolus comptonii

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 comptonii

Gladiolus comptonii flowering in winter in arid fynbos on the Heerenloggement mountain, Western Cape, South Africa. [photos Colin Paterson-Jones ]

Information mainly from Goldblatt and Manning (1998).

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa, where it is known from only one locality, the Heerenlogement Mountain at the northwestern end of the Olifants River Mountains. Plants grow in mountain fynbos vegetation on the upper slopes from 600-700 m elevation.

There is a famous overhang at the Heerenlogement Mountains where travellers over about 300 years have recorded their names on the rock surface, Francois Le Vaillant, the french naturalist, being among them (see image below).

Above: the Heerenlogement mountain, with the famous overhang in the middle of the photograph. Below: Francois Le Vaillant's name on the rock surface of the overhang. [photos H. Robertson, Iziko]

Life cycle

  • A geophyte, with corms measuring 15-20 mm in diameter.
  • Flowers in July, possible also late June.
  • Seeds ovoid, measuring 7-8 mm long by 4-5 mm wide, broadly and evenly winged.

Ecological interactions


Probably pollinated by long-tongued bees but there is no evidence to support this.

Derivation of name

comptonii refers to R.H. Compton, who founded the herbarium at Kirstenbosch and made extensive collections of the southern African flora.


  • Goldblatt P. and Manning J. 1998. Gladiolus in Southern Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.

Text by Hamish Robertson

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