Crocosmia

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Crocosmia
Hummingbird- among and Crocosmia.jpg
Crocosmia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Ixioideae
Tribe: Ixieae
Genus: Crocosmia
Planch.
Type species
Crocosmia aurea
(Pappe ex Hook.f.) Planch.
Species

See text.

Crocosmia (/krɵˈkɒzmiə/; J. E. Planchon, 1851)[1] (montbretia)[2] is a small genus of flowering plants in the iris family, Iridaceae. It is native to the grasslands of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa.

They can be evergreen or deciduous perennials that grow from basal underground corms. The basal, alternate leaves are cauline and distichous. The leaves are lanceolate. The blades are parallel-veined. The margin is entire. The corms are unusual in forming vertical chains with the youngest at the top and oldest and largest buried most deeply in the soil [1]. The roots of the lowermost corm in a chain are contractile roots and drag the corm deeper into the ground where conditions allow. The chains of corms are fragile and easily separated, a quality that has enabled some species to become invasive and difficult to control in the garden.

They have colourful inflorescences of 4 to 20 vivid red and orange subopposite flowers on a divaricately (horizontally) branched stem. The terminal inflorescence can have the form of a cyme or a raceme. These flower from early summer well into fall. The flowers are sessile on a flexuose arched spike. The fertile flowers are hermaphroditic. All stamens have an equal length. The style branches are apically forked. They are pollinated by insects, birds (hummingbirds) or by the wind. The dehiscent capsules are shorter than they are wide.

They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars, and in the United Kingdom as montbretia. Other names, for hybrids and cultivars, include antholyza, and curtonus. The genus name is derived from the Greek words krokos, meaning "saffron", and osme, meaning "odor" - from the fact that dried leaves of these plants emit a strong smell like that of saffron (a spice derived from Crocus - another genus belonging to the Iridaceae) - when immersed in hot water.[3]

Cultivation[edit]

Crocosmias are grown worldwide, and more than 400 cultivars have been produced. Some hybrids have become invasive species, especially C. x crocosmiiflora hybrids, which are invasive in the UK, New Zealand, the American Pacific Northwest, and probably elsewhere.

Crocosmia are winter-hardy in temperate regions. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

  • 'Lucifer'[4]
  • C. masoniorum[5]
  • C. masoniorum 'Rowallane yellow'[6]      
  • 'Severn Sunrise'[7]
  • C. × crocosmiiflora 'Carmin brilliant'[8]
  • C. × crocosmiiflora 'Solfatare'[9]
  • C. × crocosmiiflora 'Star of the East'[10]

Species[edit]

Natural hybrids[edit]

Garden hybrids[edit]

Cultivars[edit]

  • 'Lucifer' (Crocosmia x curtonus) scarlet

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  3. ^ Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 144–47. ISBN 0-88192-897-6. 
  4. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia 'Lucifer'". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia masoniorum". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia masoniorum 'Rowallane Yellow'". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia 'Severn Sunrise'". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Carmin brillant'". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Solfatare'". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Solfatare'". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Missouri Botanical Gardens
  • De Vos, M. P. (1999) "Crocosmia". Flora of Southern Africa 7: 129-138.
  • Peter Goldblatt, John Manning, Gary Dunlop, Auriol Batten - Crocosmia and Chasmanthe (Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector Guide)
  • Kostelijk, P.J. (1984) "Crocosmia in gardens". The Plantsman 5: 246-253.