Flame lilies

9 01 2011

The wild red flame lilies, Gloriosa superba, are coming into bloom now. I picked this one near the micro light club last Sunday and it lasted a good 5 days which is impressive considering it was already a few days old (you can see the stigma is dying back). Even more impressive was the completely undeveloped flower bud on the same stem that coloured up and opened whilst in the “vase” (in reality a water bottle on my bathroom window). There used to be a commercial grower in the Mvurwi area but I know that he is no longer in business though before Christmas vendors were selling small quantities of commercially grown flowers by the side of the road. Colours vary quite a lot too. This was an unusually dark one (it should be more crimson than this photo portrays) – they are more usually an orangey-red.

The red flame lily - Zimbabwe's national flower

They do exist elsewhere in the world. Many years ago whilst doing the backpacker thing I noticed one growing close to the beach on Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. I don’t know if it was the same species but it certainly looked the same.