Eckl. ex Klatt
Freesia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Iridaceae, first described as a genus in 1866. It is native to the eastern side of southern Africa, from Kenya south to South Africa, most species being found in Cape Province. Species of the former genus Anomatheca are now included in Freesia. The plants commonly known as "freesias", with fragrant funnel-shaped flowers, are cultivated hybrids of a number of Freesia species. Some other species are also grown as ornamental plants.
They are herbaceous plants which grow from a corm 1–2.5 cm diameter, which sends up a tuft of narrow leaves 10–30 cm long, and a sparsely branched stem 10–40 cm tall bearing a few leaves and a loose one-sided spike of flowers with six tepals. Many species have fragrant narrowly funnel-shaped flowers, although those formerly placed in the genus Anomatheca, such as F. laxa, have flat flowers.
- Freesia andersoniae L.Bolus - Cape Province, Free State
- Freesia caryophyllacea (Burm.f.) N.E.Br. (syn. F. elimensis L.Bolus, F. parva N.E.Br., F. xanthospila (DC.) Klatt) - Heuningrug region in Cape Province
- Freesia corymbosa (Burm.f.) N.E.Br. (syn. F. armstrongii W.Watson, F. brevis N.E.Br.) - Cape Province
- Freesia fergusoniae L.Bolus - Cape Province
- Freesia fucata J.C.Manning & Goldblatt - Hoeks River Valley in Cape Province
- Freesia grandiflora (Baker) Klatt - Zaire, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, northeastern South Africa
- Freesia laxa (Thunb.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning (syn. F. cruenta (Lindl.) Klatt) - from Rwanda + Kenya south to Cape Province; naturalized in Madeira, Mauritius, Réunion, Australia, Florida, Argentina
- Freesia leichtlinii Klatt (syn. F. middlemostii F.Barker, F. muirii N.E.Br.) - Cape Province; naturalized in Corsica, California, Florida, Argentina
- Freesia marginata J.C.Manning & Goldblatt - Cape Province
- Freesia occidentalis L.Bolus (syn. F. framesii L.Bolus) - Cape Province
- Freesia praecox J.C.Manning & Goldblatt - Cape Province
- Freesia refracta (Jacq.) Klatt (syn. F. hurlingii L.Bolus) - Cape Province; naturalized in France, Canary Islands, Madeira, Bermuda, St. Helena
- Freesia sparrmanii (Thunb.) N.E.Br. - Langeberg in Cape Province
- Freesia speciosa L.Bolus (syn. F. flava (E.Phillips & N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.) - Cape Province
- Freesia verrucosa (B.Vogel) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning (syn. F. juncea (Pourr.) Klatt) - Cape Province
- Freesia viridis (Aiton) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning - Namibia, Cape Province
Species of the former genus Anomatheca are now included in Freesia:
- Anomatheca cruenta Lindl. = Freesia laxa subsp. laxa
- Anomatheca grandiflora Baker = Freesia grandiflora
- Anomatheca juncea (Pourr.) Ker Gawl. = Freesia verrucosa
- Anomatheca laxa (Thunb.) Goldblatt = Freesia laxa
- Anomatheca verrucosa (B.Vogel) Goldblatt = Freesia verrucosa
- Anomatheca viridis (Aiton) Goldblatt = Freesia viridis
- Anomatheca xanthospila (DC.) Ker Gawl. = Freesia caryophyllacea
Cultivation and uses
The plants usually called "freesias" are derived from crosses made in the 19th century between F. refracta and F. leichtlinii. Numerous cultivars have been bred from these species and the pink- and yellow-flowered forms of F. corymbosa. Modern tetraploid cultivars have flowers ranging from white to yellow, pink, red and blue-mauve. They are widely cultivated and readily increased from seed. Due to their specific and pleasing scent, they are often used in hand creams, shampoos, candles, etc.
Freesia laxa (formerly called Lapeirousia laxa or Anomatheca cruenta) is one of the other species of the genus which is commonly cultivated. Smaller than the scented freesia cultivars, it has flat rather than cup-shaped flowers.
Extensive 'forcing' of this bulb occurs in Half Moon Bay in California where several growers chill the bulbs in proprietary methods to satisfy cold dormancy which results in formation of buds within a predicted number of weeks – often 5 weeks at 55°F.
- Search for "Freesia", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-08-13
- Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 149–52. ISBN 0-88192-897-6.
- Live to garden: Freesia
- Mathew, Brian (1987), The Smaller Bulbs, London: B.T. Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-4922-8, p. 9
- Innes, Clive (1985), The World of Iridaceae, Ashington, UK: Holly Gate International, ISBN 978-0-948236-01-3, p. 18
- Goldblatt, P. (1982) Systematics of Freesia Klatt (Iridaceae) J. South African Bot. 48:39-93.