Lachenalia neilii

W.F.Barker ex G.D.Duncan
Family : Hyacinthaceae
Common names
: Kleuterviooltjie (Afr.)

Close up of flower

Lachenalia neilii is a bulb endemic to the Bokkeveld Plateau and grows in heavy doleritic clay.

Lachenalia neilii is a geophyte of 1030 cm. It has two spear-shaped leaves and the plant produces numerous bulbils. The flowers are narrowly cup-shaped, white and blue-grey at the base. The plants usually flower between September and October.

PLant in growth

Conservation status
EN (Endangered). Lachenalia neilii is restricted to the Bokkeveld Plateau. It is only known from a few populations and is under ongoing threat of habitat loss and degradation due to development and overgrazing.

Distribution and habitat
Lachenalia neilii is restricted to the heavy dolerite clay flats in the Nieuwoudtville area in the Northern Cape.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Lachenalia was named after Werner de Lachenal, a professor from Basel, Switzerland. The specific name neilii refers to Mr Neil Macgregor, the previous owner of Glen Lyon Farm, now the Hantam National Botanical Garden in Nieuwoudtville. This was done to recognize his contribution to nature conservation in the area.

The first specimen of the species was collected as far back as 1930, during a National Botanic Gardens expedition.This is the second Lachenalia species commemorating Mr Macgregor and his family; the very rare Lachenalia macgregoriorum was also described from their property in 1979 by W.F. Barker.

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

Lachenalia neilii is not scented and is visited mostly by bees.

Flower spike 

Growing Lachenalia neilii

The plants grow easily from seed, collected in early summer. Sow seeds in late summer or early autumn in a well-draining soil mix. From seeds to flowering, takes about two years. The species can also be grown from the bulbils and they can be transplanted into containers or in the garden, preferably in full sun. To get the best effect for your garden, cluster plants together.

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.
  • Duncan, G.D. 2000. Grow bulbs. Kirstenbosch Gardening Series. A guide to the species, cultivation and propagation of South African bulbs. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
  • Manning, J. & Goldblatt, P. 2007. Nieuwoudtville: Bokkeveld Plateau & Hantam. South African Wild Flower Guide 9. Botanical Society of South Africa 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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Eugene Marinus

Hantam National Botanical Garden

October 2012

To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.
This page forms part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website