Freesia is a genus of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Iridaceae, first described as a genus in 1866 by Christian Friedrich Ecklon (1886) and named after the German botanist and medical practitioner, Friedrich Freese (1795-1876). It is native to the eastern side of southern Africa, from Kenya south to South Africa, most species being found in Cape Provinces. 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 conical 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 - the Cape Provinces, 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 the Cape Provinces
- Freesia corymbosa (Burm.f.) N.E.Br. (syn. F. armstrongii W.Watson, F. brevis N.E.Br.) - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia fergusoniae L.Bolus - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia fucata J.C.Manning & Goldblatt - Hoeks River Valley in the Cape Provinces
- 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 the Cape Provinces; naturalized in Madeira, Mauritius, Réunion, Australia, Florida, Argentina
- Freesia leichtlinii Klatt (syn. F. middlemostii F.Barker, F. muirii N.E.Br.) - the Cape Provinces; naturalized in Corsica, California, Florida, Argentina
- Freesia marginata J.C.Manning & Goldblatt - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia occidentalis L.Bolus (syn. F. framesii L.Bolus) - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia praecox J.C.Manning & Goldblatt - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia refracta (Jacq.) Klatt (syn. F. hurlingii L.Bolus) - the Cape Provinces; naturalized in France, Canary Islands, Madeira, Bermuda, St. Helena
- Freesia sparrmanii (Thunb.) N.E.Br. - Langeberg in the Cape Provinces
- Freesia speciosa L.Bolus (syn. F. flava (E.Phillips & N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.) - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia verrucosa (B.Vogel) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning (syn. F. juncea (Pourr.) Klatt) - the Cape Provinces
- Freesia viridis (Aiton) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning - Namibia, the Cape Provinces
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 mostly cultivated professionally in the Netherlands by about 80 growers. Freesias can be readily increased from seed. Due to their specific and pleasing scent, they are often used in hand creams, shampoos, candles, etc., however, the flowers are mainly used in wedding bouquets.
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 (13 °C).
- 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.
- Dutch flowerpaper, Bloemenkrant, publisher Verhagen, week 12-2015, see also http://issuu.com/twovisions/docs/bk_week_12_15?e=1360358/11894263
- 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
- Manning, John C.; Goldblatt, Peter (2010). Botany and horticulture of the genus Freesia (Iridaceae). Strelitzia vol. 27. Pretoria: South African National Biodiversity Institute, SANBI. ISBN 978-1-919976-58-7.
- Goldblatt, P. (1982) Systematics of Freesia Klatt (Iridaceae) J. South African Bot. 48:39-93.