Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
These striking, yellow and brown blooms belong to the harlequin evening flower (Hesperantha vaginata), a member of the iris family (Iridaceae).
Native to a high plateau in the southwest of South Africa, it grows and flowers during the cool, moist winters and is dormant during the hot, dry summers—a habit it shares with many South African bulbs. The genus name Hesperantha translates from the Greek as “evening flower” for the simple reason that the flowers of most members of this genus open in the afternoon or evening.
On a sunny day, the harlequin evening flower is open by noon and can be seen this week on a windowsill in the Palm House, the middle section of the Marco Stufano Conservatory. Look for it to the right of the entrance to the Cactus & Succulent House.