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Sparaxis bulbifera (Flower) 2.jpg
Sparaxis bulbifera
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Ixioideae
Tribe: Ixieae
Genus: Sparaxis
Type species
Sparaxis bulbifera
(L.) Ker Gawler
  • Anactorion Raf.
  • ×Sparanthera Cif. & Giacom.
  • Streptanthera Sweet
  • Synnotia Sweet

Sparaxis (harlequin flower) is a genus in the family Iridaceae with about 13 species endemic to Cape Province, South Africa.

All are perennials that grow during the wet winter season, flower in spring and survive underground as dormant corms over summer. Their conspicuous flowers have six tepals, which in most species are equal in size and shape.

Sparaxis bulbifera is the most commonly cultivated of the genus, with flowers from cream to yellow or purple. S. grandiflora is a similar but larger plant. Sparaxis tricolor has bright red flowers with yellow and black centres. Many named hybrid cultivars were bred from S. bulbifera and S. tricolor.

A group of species with asymmetrical flowers marked in mauve and yellow, including Sparaxis variegata and Sparaxis villosa, was formerly treated as the genus Synnotia.

The genus name is derived from the Greek word sparasso, meaning "to tear", and alludes to the shape of the floral bracts.[2]



  1. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  2. ^ Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 181–84. ISBN 0-88192-897-6.