Plant of the month – October 2017


Haemanthus albiflos

Haemanthus albiflos

Haemanthus albiflos


The Haemanthus albiflos that I keep in the greenhouse all the year round, reliably flowers for me each autumn. It is sometimes called the ‘shaving brush’ or ‘paintbrush’ plant, because of the numerous flowers that have long white filaments topped with orange anthers. However, it should not be confused with the American Castilleja species that is also given the same name. It is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. It is an evergreen bulb from South Africa, according to Wikipedia, may be found in both winter and summer rainfall regions, and has a manly coastal distribution from the southern Cape through the Eastern Cape to KwaZula-Natal, showing a preference for cool, shady spots. The RHS describe it as ‘a South African evergreen perennial bulb with strap-shaped or broadly elliptic leaves and brush-like clusters to 10cm across, of small white flowers held with broad greenish-white bracts, and sometimes followed by orange-red berries’. I have not noticed any berries on mine.
The red flowered form H. coccineus is much more striking but flowers between February and April and its distribution is mainly north and west of the Cape.

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