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Gladiolus cunonius (Lepelblom)

Lepelblom [Afrikaans]

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 cunonius at Strandfontein, Cape Town (left and top right) and Kleinmond (bottom right). [photos H.G. Robertson, Iziko ]

Information from Goldblatt and Manning (1998).

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa, where it has a coastal distribution extending from Saldanha Bay on the West Coast, round the Cape Peninsula, to Knysna in the east. Plants grow in coarse coastal sands in open areas among coastal scrub, often just above high water mark or on vegetated sand dunes a short distance inland.

Life cycle

  • A geophyte, with small corms, measuring 6-9 mm in diameter. Numerous stolons (slender root-like processes) arise from the base of the corms at the end of which are cormlets (small corms) - thus this plant has an efficient means of spreading other than through seed and this means of reproduction also probably spreads the risk in terms of predation of corms by molerats.
  • Flowers from September to mid-November.
  • Seeds are ovate to oblong, 7-8 mm long by 5 mm wide, broadly and evenly winged.

Ecological interactions


  • Birds
    • Cinnyris chalybeus (Southern double-collared sunbird, Lesser double-collared sunbird). Appears to be the sole pollinator of Gladiolus cunonius.

Derivation of names

  • cunonius - named after an 18th century Dutch botanist, J.C. Cuno.
  • Lepelblom is the Afrikaans name for this plant and it has been adopted in English as well. It means "spoon flower" and refers to the shape of the dorsal tepal.


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

Text by Hamish Robertson

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