Monday, October 12, 2009


Watsonia pyramidata x

The genus Watsonia was named in 1752 by Philip Miller ,curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden (London) after his friend Sir William Watson (1715-1787) a physician and naturalist.
The 50 or so species of this bulb/corm all hail from South Africa and are members of the Iris Family (Iridaceae). In Australia they were once popular garden plants and the most commonly grown species was the October flowering W. pyramidata which forms a bold clump of sword shaped leaves topped by flower spikes up to 1.8 metres tall.The usual flower colour being rosy mauve,white or magenta. About 80 years ago a programme of selection and hybridisation of Watsonia was carried out at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne which resulted in a number of new cultivars in different colours. These were named after the capital cities of Australia . The flower above, photographed in an old garden, is possibly one of these and is either the flesh pink 'Brisbane' or the salmon pink 'Melbourne' depending on how well you see your flower colours. I am opting for salmon pink.
In recent years ,Watsonia have come to be regarded as a genus of environmental and noxious weeds ,the worst culprit locally being W bulbillifera which covers great tracts of bushland beside the road at Maddens Plains. Watsonia bulbs are occasionally offered in bulb catalogues or are sold as plants at market stalls but caution is advised before planting them especially if you live close to bushland.

Sir William Watson ,Physician and Naturalist (1715-1787)
2017 update: I don't have any Watsonia available for sale.

1 comment:

  1. The flower doesn't look all that noxious.But I have not seen it in any nursery here.