Babiana aurea (Pappe ex Hook.) Klotzsch
Crocanthus mossambicensis Klotzsch ex Klatt
Crocosmia cinnabarina (Pax) M.P.de Vos
Crocosmia maculata (Baker) N.E.Br.
Tritonia aurea Pappe ex Hook.
Tritonia cinnabarina Pax
Crocosmia pauciflora Milne-Redh.
Common Name: Montbretia
Close-up of the flower
Photograph by: Hectonichus
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Crocosmia aurea is an attractive perennial plant growing up to a metre tall from a bulbous rootstock. It produces a number of bright orange flowers in a full spike at the end of the flower stalk[
The plant is sometimes gathered from the wild for local use as a food colorant or medicine, and is commonly grown as an ornamental in gardens.
S. Africa - East Cape province and north to Mozambique, Malawi etc
Shady forest areas in moist country, at elevations from 2,000 - 2,500 metres[
]. Especially common in conifer plantations[
]. Mostly in forest margins and clearings in areas of high rainfall[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Crocosmia aurea is native from the warm temperate to the tropical zones of southern Africa. The corms are hardy to about -10°c[
] but in cold areas it is wise to lift them when the plants die down in the autumn, store them in a cool frost-free place over the winter and plant them out in the spring[
]. Make sure the corms do not dry out[
]. It is best to avoid lifting the corms if at all possible since the new corms seem to derive some nutrition from the old corms that have flowered[
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost all soils other than very heavy clays or bogs[
], though it prefers a light rich sandy soil[
] in full sun or light dappled shade[
]. Another report says that it prefers a fairly shady position and plenty of moisture in the growing season[
Plants can divide quite freely when growing in a suitable location[
Although the fresh flowers have no perfume, when dried and immersed in warm water they release a scent like that of the saffron crocus[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[
A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers and used as a saffron substitute for colouring foods[
A traditional medicine, used in the treatment of dysentery[
A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold greenhouse[
]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 9 weeks at 20 - 25°c[
]. Stored seed can be sown in early spring in a greenhouse[
]. Sow the seed thinly so that the plants can be grown on undisturbed in their pot for the first year, but give the seedlings an occasional liquid feed to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. Once the plants are dormant in the autumn, pot up the bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another year or two in the greenhouse before planting them out when they are dormant in the autumn.
Division in spring as new growth commences[
]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.