Small cobra lily

Small cobra lily

Chasmanthe aethiopica

Scientific name

This attractive species is one of the earliest of the Cape bulbs to flower, its spikes of orange, tubular flowers providing welcome interest to the winter garden.

Chasmanthe aethiopica grows in coastal bush and along the edges of forest patches, in free-draining relatively fertile clay soils but is fine in sandy and loamy soils as long as the bulb is not kept wet in summer. Its will not withstand temperatures much below freezing.

The tubular flowers are adapted to pollination by sunbirds, especially the Lesser double-collared sunbird. Fruit is eaten by Red-winged Starlings

Historically used as food and traditional medicine.

Propagation instructions

By cutting

Chasmanthe aethiopica thrives in relatively fertile, freely draining soil and will soon spread naturally through division of the corms in favourable situations.

Plants are winter-growing and must be kept dry during their summer dormancy.

In well-drained soil they will survive some moisture during this period but should not be allowed to remain too wet.

The ease with which the species multiplies means that is must be repotted frequently if not grown in the garden.

It flowers best in sunny or partially sunny situations and is a lovely species for underplanting beneath deciduous trees, where it can be left to run free.

Plants should be left undisturbed for optimum flowering.

Potted plants benefit from light fertilizing in the growing period.

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Seedbank Quantity
Arundel Seedbank 201
Total 201

This table below shows how many plants we are trying to obtain for this species.

Site Area Quantity
Site #2 Delft 4
Site #8 Delft 6
Site #11 Delft 6
Site #14 Delft 20
Site #27 Mowbray 40
Site #28 Mowbray 100
Site #29 Mowbray 75
Site #30 Rosebank 50
Site #40 Rosebank 40
Site #47 Rosebank 90
Site #58 Rosebank 50
Site #59 Rosebank 200
Site #60 Bishop's Court 10
Site #62 Newlands 40
Site #15 Rosebank 40
Site #66 Mowbray 30
Site #64 Mowbray 20
Site #20 Rosebank 100
8 other sites 490
Total 921

Important characteristics

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

This is a bird-friendly species

It provides medicinal value

Easy to grow

Suitable for clay soil

Suitable for sandy soil

It provides food for:

Southern double-collared sunbird

Chasmanthe aethiopica is indigenous to: Cape Flats Dune Strandveld Peninsula Shale Renosterveld Cape Flats Sand Fynbos Cape Flats Dune Strandveld

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