is a genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...
in the family Iridaceae
The Iris family or Iridaceae is a family of perennial, herbaceous and bulbous plants included in the monocot order Asparagales, taking its name from the genus Iris. Almost worldwide in distribution and one of the most important families in horticulture, it includes more than 2000 species...
with about 13 species endemic to Cape Province
The Province of the Cape of Good Hope was a province in the Union of South Africa and subsequently the Republic of South Africa...
, South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
All are perennials that grow during the wet winter season, flower in spring and survive underground as dormant corm
A corm is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat ....
s over summer. Their conspicuous flowers have six tepal
Tepals are elements of the perianth, or outer part of a flower, which include the petals or sepals. The term tepal is more often applied specifically when all segments of the perianth are of similar shape and color, or undifferentiated, which is called perigone...
s, which in most species are equal in size and shape.
is the commonest in cultivation, with flowers from cream to yellow or purple. S. grandiflora
is a similar but larger plant. Sparaxis tricolor
has bright red flowers with yellow and black centres. Many named hybrid cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...
s were bred from S. bulbifera
and S. tricolor
A group of species with asymmetrical flowers marked in mauve and yellow, including Sparaxis variegata
and Sparaxis villosa
, was formerly treated as the genus Synnotia
The genus name is derived from the Greek
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...
, meaning "to tear", and alludes to the shape of the floral bracts.