Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
Lachenalia aloides var. aurea is one of the many winter-flowering South African bulbs that can be seen at Wave Hill this time of year.
The Lachenalias are commonly referred to as Cape cowslips or opal flowers and are very showy when in bloom.
There are more than a hundred species of Lachenalia, some of which, like L. aloides, demonstrate natural variations, which is indicated by the contraction “var.” in the botanical name.
These are most usually variations in flower color and, as the last part of its name (aurea) suggests, this one is golden-yellow. Clustered in several pots, it creates a wonderful splash of sunshine on the floor of the Palm House, in the center space of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory.
All the Lachenalias hail from southern Africa and this particular example is native to the Western Cape.