Cameron & Rhoda McMaster's

Nerine Notes - Nerines of the Eastern Cape
by Cameron McMaster

- Notes sent to Rachel Saunders to assist her with the article that appeared in Herbertia (Saunders, R. 1997. Nerines in South Africa. Herbertia 52: 88-89, 186.)

In these notes I have used the names supplied to me by Nerine expert, the late Ken Douglas, when I met him in the early 1970's. Some of these names are no longer recognised. For instance Nerine alta and Nerine flexuosa are now recognised as forms of Nerine undulata and Nerine angulata is grouped with Nerine appendiculata. I do not necessarily agree with the recent lumping of the previously acknowledged species, since there are very clear differences, not only in appearance and flowering times, but in habitat preference

Nerine alta - from wetlands in the Kei Road, Stutterheim and Cathcart areas is one of the broad-leaved nerines. Petals very fine tending to role into tubes but strongly crisped giving the impression of a very dainty, spidery flower. Darker pink than N. undulata,  otherwise similar leaves and flowering time (upper right). Two very late flowering forms of Nerine alta have been observed. One, flowering in August, occurs  on rocky ledges beside streams in Valley Thicket vegetation in the Quanti area of the Stutterheim district (left). The other very similar form flowers even later, into September, on the edges of riverine bush in the vicinity of Kei Mouth (lower right). These two forms, flowering in early spring, are the strange exception to the rule that Nerines all flower in Autumn

Nerine appendiculata - I have observed this species in wet seeps in the Elliot and Ugie districts in the East Cape. We also came across it in the Weza forest, southern Natal, in stream beds at the end of April when it was still fresh in flower. There were no leaves  at the time.

Nerine angulata - from damp spots, river banks and seepage areas on the highlands of the Amatola and Bosberg mountains from Stutterheim and
Cathcart to Somerset East. I have observed the occasional pure white
specimen. Occurs  thickly in vast numbers in vleis making magnificent and
unforgettable displays. Leaves filiform but robust and long - tending to be
almost evergreen and occurring with flowers (Somerset East specimens have more robust leaves than Stutterheim specimens and flower at least three weeks earlier). Seed are egg-shaped. Flowers in March to April - very
distinct large flower with upper petals  arranged vertically in a fan shape.

Nerine filamentosa - A very distinct species with a limited range in the
Cathcart district where it occurs in a very specific and fairly dry habitat.
It prefers rocky outcrops where it grows in full sun in extreme conditions in shallow soil in the rock fissures. Very fine filiform leaves, deciduous and with large flowers relative to the leaves, arranged in a sparse, flattened umbel with strongly recurved petals and extremely long filaments. Flowers from early February.

Nerine filifolia - occurs widely in various spots in the East Cape always
between rock slabs or in shallow soil overlaying  rock. Flowers in April and is almost evergreen.

Nerine flexuosa - I have observed this on the southern aspect of the
Bosberg near Somerset East where it occurs in well drained peaty soil on steep slopes in fairly thick fynbos type vegetation. It is one of the larger nerines in the Eastern Cape and the last to flower - sometimes  into June. It is almost evergreen with leaves broad, flat and long.  Flowers are large, almost as big as N. bowdenii , but shorter petals and very pale pink (right).  The habitat, and shape of flower and petal are different to N. undulata. A further form very similar to the Bosberg form occurs on the steep gravelly banks of the Ecca Pass near Grahamstown. This population also flowers very late - usually in June and is distinct in having shorter and broader leaves arranged in a flat
rosette (left).

It could be that the broad leaved nerines of the Eastern Cape represent a cline with the eastern extreme being alta with its dainty fine petals, undulata in the central areas and the  western extreme being flexuosa with its larger flowers and broad petals. If all the populations in between were to be studied, it may be that we would find a gradual  merging of the forms from one to the other.

Nerine gibsoni - I have observed this in the highlands between Lady Frere and Cala in Transkei but its habitat is severely degraded and I think it is doomed to extinction. It is remarkable in that the colour varies from pure white to purple with all the shades of pink in between - with no shade
dominant. Leaves filiform, more robust than filifolia - leaves and flowers of a similar shape and size similar to angulata and appendiculata to which it is closely related.

Nerine huttoniae - This spectacular Nerine is confined to dry Karoo in the valley of the Great Fish River and its tributaries from Committees Drift in the South to North of Cradock. The peak flowering time is late January. It occurs in seasonally wet flat Karoo plains, not necessarily adjacent to river banks.  The rather sparse rain in this region  falls primarily in summer - mostly in the form of sharp thunderstorms at irregular intervals. The area is subject to
severe periodic droughts, frost in winter and extreme heat in summer. The soil is clay/loam, sometimes very stony. The Nerine plants are massed over
extensive areas and grow between the low karoo bushes and shrubs. They are clearly very hardy and drought resistant to be able to thrive in such an
inhospitable habitat. Most of the populations occur in areas that are fairly heavily grazed by sheep and goats.  While subject to trampling and erosion, there is no evidence that they are grazed. With large deep pink flower heads and rosettes of broad glossy green leaves, N. huttoniae is clearly one of the most spectacular members of the genus.

Nerine masoniorum - I have not observed this species in the wild, where it is very localised and rare in the Umtata region. It is the earliest to flower, from late January. It is a miniature species with very fine filiform leaves and small compact flowers. Bulbs multiply profusely.

Nerine undulata - The typical form comes from the Adelaide and Bedford districts. This broad-leaved species differs from N. alta in the flower and petal shape as well as bulb development, but leaves are similar. Petals are broad and shortish with strongly crisped margins - usually paler pink than N. alta.  Flowers in late April/May.  Natural habitat is usually on steep slopes near shady  forest verges, whereas N. alta grows in wetland marshes usually in full sun. Almost evergreen with leaves dying back at flowering time but emerging soon after.  Bulbs multiply profusely vegetatively. N. alta does not multiply vegetatively and must be grown from seed to increase numbers. 

Four sections:  1.  Laticomae:  atypical ones                     
2.  Nerine: 
  3.  Bowdeniae: 
  4:  Appendiculatae: 

alta:  close to undulata.  Hysteranthous leaves, very long peduncle,  perianth segs distinctly longer than stamens and conspicuously widened at the base, with the dilated parts either contiguous or slightly overlapping so that a sort of cup is formed above the ovary.  60-90 cm.  Hogsback.

angulata:  evergreen, Mar-Apr, fairly erect grass-like leaves. 30-50 cm. E. Cape.

angustifolia:  similar to appendiculata in appearance and habitat. But angustifolia has narrow grass-like leaves, not strap shaped. (angustus = narrow).   Leaves 2-3, often after flowers.  Hairless.  Usually less than 10 flowers umbel up to 20 cm diameter to 1.2 cm tall.  Three seeds or less per fruit. Mist belt of Tvl, along streams, Swaziland

appendiculata:     within 500 m of N. pancratioides between Greytown and Weenen, also farm Drayton 10 miles W of Not. Road.  3,000 -4,000 feet. 
Very clear appendages at inside base of flower.  Finely pubescent pedicels.

bowdenii:  hardy. Between Sentinel Peak and Chain Ladder, N. Drakensberg.

breachiae:  outskirts of Bredasdorp, late autumn.  Mature leaves pressed to the ground, 8 mm x 5 cm, like Brunsvigia. About 5 flowers, up to 30 cm tall.


filamentosa:  curled back segments with very pronounced protruding

filifolia:  Grahamstown (var. parviflora, flowers in August), KWT, Bedford, Queenstown, Maclear.  Few thread-like leaves with flowers, evergreen. The original filifolia description from OFS (mr Ayres in 1879). Also said to come from E Tvl, Swaziland, Transkei, and flower from Mar-Aug, sometimes up to January.

flexuosa:  from Bruintjies Hoogte, July.  4-5 synanthous leaves, 50 x 2 cm.  9+ flowers, 70 cm tall, petals 3.2 x .4 cm. or wider in cultivation.

frithii:  Cape Kalahari - Kimberley - Hoopstad. Allied to appendiculata, but
almost filiform leaves, glabrous pedicels, fewer  and smaller flowers. Often only 2 leaves. Appendiculate bases of anthers form a cup, with two lobes markedly longer.

gaberonensis:  N. Cape, NW Tvl and SE Botswana. Deciduous, Mar-Apr, up to 25 cxm.  Dwarf. Filiform leaves, up to 10 cm.  Wine red flowers, 14-15. 
Related to rehmannii,  dark colour, larger flowers, grey bulb tunics. Spongy bulb neck protects young shoot from heat. March.

gibsonii:  related to appendiculata, but shorter peduncle, smaller unbel,  fewer flowers with different colour and markings, smaller stamen appendages of different form and fewer teeth. Filiform leaves, up to 32 cm, channelled, twisted.  Five petals up, one down, pink-keeled, 4-9 flowers, up to 10 cm
umbel, up to 35 cm.  Near summits of mts in Cala-Engcobo, from 5,000-6,000 feet, also Qumakala, between rocks facing NE.  Feb-Mar.