Lachenalia alba

G.D. Duncan

Family: Hyacinthaceae
Common names:
Witviooltjie (Afrikaans)

  Flower spike

Lachenalia alba has a restricted distribution and is only know from the Nieuwoudtville and Calvinia areas, where it grows in colonies.

Lachenalia alba is a geophyte of 100300 mm with two spear-shaped leaves. The inflorescence is a raceme (because the flowers have stalks (pedicels) with individual flowers that are oblong-bell-shaped (oblong-campanulate).

Entire plant

Conservation status
Lachenalia alba is restricted to the Bokkeveld Plateau and is Red Listed as VU (Vulnerable). The species has lost more than 25% of its habitat to agriculture. It is further threatened by livestock trampling and porcupine diggings.

Distribution and habitat
On the Bokkeveld Plateau, Lachenalia alba grows in heavy clay soils in Renosterveld.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Lachenalia was named after Werner de Lachnenal, a professor from Basel, Switzerland. The specific epithet, alba, refer to the white colour of the flowers. It usually grows in association with L. neilii and looks very similar, but does not form bulbils.

This species was first recorded by W.F. Barker in September 1930 from the Nieuwoudtville area.

Lachenalia is the largest genus of the South African Hyacinthaceae family and consists of more than 100 species.

Lachenalia alba has open cup-shaped flowers and is mostly visited by bees.

Uses and cultural aspects
There are no traditional or economic uses known for the species. Lachenalia alba will make a good focal point in a garden or in a pot.

Plant in flower

Growing Lachenalia alba

Plants grow easily from seeds that have been collected in mid-summer. Sow seeds in early autumn in a well-drained soil mix. It takes approximately two years from sowing the seeds until the plants produce flowers. Plants can be potted or planted directly into a garden bed. Cluster plants together in groups to get the best effect.

References and further reading

  • Duncan, G.D. 1996. Four new species and one new subspecies of Lachenalia (Hyacinthaceae) from the arid areas of South Africa. Bothalia 26,1: 19.
  • Duncan, G.D. 1988. The Lachenalia Handbook. Annals of Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens 17: 1528.
  • Manning, J. & Goldblatt, P. 2007. Nieuwoudtville: Bokkeveld Plateau & Hantam. South African Wild Flower Guide 9. Botanical Society in association with the National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
  • Raimondo, D., Von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. & Manyama, P.A. (eds) 2009. Red List of South African plants 2009. Strelitzia 25. South African Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.


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Hantam National Botanical Garden

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