Freesia laxa

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Freesia laxa
Anomatheca laxa01.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Ixioideae
Genus: Freesia
Species: F. laxa
Binomial name
Freesia laxa
(Thunb.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning
  • Gladiolus laxus Thunb.
  • Meristostigma laxum (Thunb.) A.Dietr.
  • Lapeirousia laxa (Thunb.) N.E.Br.
  • Anomatheca laxa (Thunb.) Goldblatt
  • Lapeirousia cruenta (Lindl.) Baker
  • Freesia cruenta (Lindl.) Klatt.

Freesia laxa or False Freesia (syn. Anomatheca cruenta, Anomatheca laxa, Lapeirousia cruenta, Lapeirousia laxa) is a small cormous flowering plant from the eastern + southern Africa from Kenya to northeastern South Africa.[1] It is grown in gardens as an ornamental plant.


Freesia laxa grows from corms, reaching about 15–30 cm (6–12 in) tall. The green leaves are arranged in a flat "fan" from which the flower stalk emerges. The flowers are flattened, about 2 cm (0.8 in) across. Their colour varies considerably. The ground colour is red, white or pale blue. The bases of the lowest three tepals usually have a darker marking, which may be red or purple, although it is absent in the pure white form. The seeds are bright red.[2][3]

It is native to the eastern side of southern Africa,[2] from Kenya to South Africa,[1] where it grows in somewhat moist conditions. It dies down to a corm in the winter, growing again at the end of spring and flowering in summer.[2] In the wild, in the Southern Hemisphere, it flowers between October and December.[3]


This small bulbous species has been known by a variety of names. The name Gladiolus laxus was originally published by Carl Thunberg in 1823. Peter Goldblatt transferred the species to Anomatheca laxa in 1971; Nicholas Brown changed it to Lapeirousia laxa in 1928; Goldblatt with his colleague John Charles Manning settled on Freesia laxa in 1995.[1] Separately, in 1830, John Lindley described Anomatheca cruenta which John Baker transferred to Lapeirousia cruenta in 1892.[4] Lindley's plant is now regarded as part of Freesia laxa.[1]

Forms with blue flowers are treated as Freesia laxa subsp. azurea, other forms being placed in Freesia laxa subsp. laxa.[5]


Freesia laxa is sufficiently hardy to be grown outdoors in all but the coldest parts of the British Isles.[2] It requires a light soil and a sunny position. In colder areas, the corms can be lifted and dried off during the winter. It can be propagated by dividing groups of corms or by seed.[2] It can be somewhat invasive through self-sowing when grown in favourable conditions.[5]

The white-flowered cultivar F. laxa var. alba has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[6]

Variation in flower colour
This form is sometimes given the cultivar name 'Joan Evans'[5]
Almost pure white form


  1. ^ a b c d e "Freesia laxa", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-08-13 
  2. ^ a b c d e Mathew, Brian (1987), The Smaller Bulbs, London: B.T. Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-4922-8 , p. 9
  3. ^ a b Innes, Clive (1985), The World of Iridaceae, Ashington, UK: Holly Gate International, ISBN 978-0-948236-01-3 , p. 18
  4. ^ "Anomatheca cruenta", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-08-13 
  5. ^ a b c Freesia, Pacific Bulb Society, archived from the original on 2012-08-13, retrieved 2012-08-13 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Freesia laxa var. alba". Retrieved 17 July 2013. 

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