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April Fool's Flower

Haemanthus sanguineus


There are generally 2 leaves per bulb, but occasionally 3. The leaves vary considerably in shape, size, colour and markings. They are elliptical to broadly or narrowly tongue or strap- shaped (lingulate), (25-)80-150(-210) mm wide, most often more-or-less barred with red or dark green on the underside. They may be prostrate, recurved or stand suberect. They generally occur after flowering but may rarely occur simultaneously with the flower. The leaves generally appear from about April to October, although some may be found as early as February. Leaves die down from about October and the bulb lies dormant during summer. The flowerheads emerge between February and April, usually before the leaves appear. The peduncle is occasionally unmarked, but is most often more-or-less streaked or spotted. The flowerhead comprises 6-9 stiff, red spathe valves surrounding the 25-100 coral to scarlet flowers. The valves are mostly fleshy and may stand erect or sometimes be somewhat lax. The flowers are soon followed by translucent, fleshy berries containing 1-3 dark wine-coloured seeds. The berries may be white to pale or deep pink in colour.


Occurring in widely varying habitats, mainly coastal scrub and rocky slopes, throughout the winter rainfall region of South Africa, from southern Namibia southwards to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to Grahamstown. Population sizes may vary from a few plants in a group to dense stands in which there may be hundreds of individuals. They are found in karooid veld types as well as fynbos and renosterveld with rainfall ranging between 100-1 100 mm per year and altitudes from sea level to 1 200 m. They favour fairly protected sites such as rock crevices and shaded kloofs or the shelter of shrubs and bushes.


Fresh leaves were applied as a dressing to septic ulcers and sores and also to the pustules of anthrax. A diuretic was made from the sliced bulb boiled in vinegar and mixed with honey. Asthma was also treated with this mixture. The bulb contains coccinine which is an alkaloid with a known convulsive action. *Photo taken of plant in cultivation

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Wendy Clapham
Wendy Clapham 6 years ago

Thanks Andrea!

AndreaLim 6 years ago

Great series Wendy! Love your photography! Look forward to seeing more.

Wendy Clapham
Spotted by
Wendy Clapham

Swartland Local Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa

Lat: -33.35, Long: 18.86

Spotted on Feb 24, 2013
Submitted on Feb 24, 2013

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