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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fire or Bush Lily, Clivia miniata

It has always seemed to me that flower buds are some of the most remarkable natural objects- the botanical equivalent of a firework - containing the prepackaged, intricate beauty of a floral display just waiting to explode.............. and when it's a Clivia bud, the display can be truely impressive... 

Clivia miniata hails from Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa, where it grows in dappled shade in woodlands - and so it's well adapted to life as a houseplant, in shady rooms. Scores of cultivars have been bred and it's not a difficult plant to raise from seed. I germinated a batch of seed that I collected when I self-pollinated the plant in the photograph above and most flowered within four years of germination, producing a remarkably variable batch of seedlings. Sadly, none was better than the parent plant and several produced very small flowers. 

The name of this genus has its roots in Britain's imperial past and commemorates Lady Clive, Duchess of Northumberland and grand-daughter of the famous General Clive of India. The genus has a society dedicated to it - the Clivia Society - with an interesting web site.