|Gethyllis ciliaris by Robert Jacob Gordon|
Gethyllis (probably from Greek "gethyon", bulb), commonly called Kukumakranka, Koekemakranka, or Kroekemakrank, is a genus of bulbous plant native to the Sandveld of the Cape Province and Transvaal and Orange Free State of South Africa, as well as from Botswana and Namibia.
The fragrant, solitary, white flower appears at Christmas-time. Flowering is well-synchronised to increase the odds of cross-pollination, the genus being incapable of self-fertilisation. Triggering of mass flowering is thought to result from a sudden change in barometric pressure. Some three months later the edible, scented creamy-white to orange-yellow to rich burgundy-red, club-shaped fruit starts pushing above the soil surface. The inferior ovary is located well below ground-level where the developing fruit or berry is hidden until its growth forces it into view. Emergence of the fruit is followed almost immediately by the first leaves. The ripe fruit falls over and sheds its short-lived seeds, ready to take advantage of the winter rains. The ripe fruit is sometimes used to impart its special aroma to bottles of brandy. The genus is easily identified by its spirally twisted grey-green, strap-like leaves which develop during the winter months (May - August).
Gethyllis has some 32 winter-growing species with an extensive distribution covering the winter-rainfall area of the southern portion of Namibia and throughout the Cape Province, with the Vanrhynsdorp-Nieuwoudtville region showing the greatest species diversity. The genus is closely related to the summer-growing Apodolirion having 6 species and ranging from the Southern Cape to the summer-rainfall area of the Transvaal.