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Bowiea volubilis
Bowiea volubilis.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Genus: Bowiea
Harv. ex Hook.f.
Species: B. volubilis
Binomial name
Bowiea volubilis
Harv. ex Hook.f.
  • Ophiobostryx Skeels
  • Schizobasopsis J.F.Macbr.
  • Ophiobostryx volubilis (Harv. ex Hook.f.) Skeels
  • Schizobasopsis volubilis (Harv. ex Hook.f.) J.F.Macbr.
  • Bowiea gariepensis van Jaarsv.
  • Bowiea kilimandscharica Mildbr.

Bowiea is a bulbous genus of perennial, succulent plants which thrive in dry and desert regions of eastern and southern Africa. It is native to a region stretching from Kenya to Cape Province.[1]

The plants have many overlapping scales, which form a tight, pale green, spherical bulb that grows to 8 in (20 cm) above the soil, sending up a twining fresh-green branched stem with few linear deciduous leaves. Dormant in winter, when the outer scales and many of the scale tips dry to a paper-like state, the plants burst to growth in late spring or summer, producing one or more very fast-growing stems that needs to be supported by a trellis or stake. The stems are covered with many leafless side-branches that may fall off. The small greenish-white flowers appear in spring. The genus is named after the nineteenth-century British plant collector at Kew, James Bowie.[2][3]

Cultivation The plants prefer gritty well-drained soil in full sun. Water rarely, except during the growing season. Propagate from seed.


One species is recognized, with two subspecies[1]

  • Bowiea volubilis (climbing-onion, sea onion[4])
    • Bowiea volubilis subsp. gariepensis (van Jaarsv.) Bruyns - Namibia, Cape Province
    • Bowiea volubilis subsp. volubilis - from Cape Province to Kenya


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Govaerts, R. (1996). World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. Continental Publishing, Deurne.
  3. ^ Stedje, B. (1996). Hyacinthaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-32.
  4. ^ Top 10 Ugly Plants

External links[edit]