Plant Collector: Onixotis triqueta

Now Onixotis triquetra, no longer a dipidax

Now Onixotis triquetra, no longer a dipidax

It used to be a Dipidax and is still widely known under this name but I have never heard of a common name in this country. In its native habitat, the bulb wonderland of the Cape Province in South Africa, it is apparently sometimes called the waterflower, on account of its ability to grow in damp ground. In fact it will grow pretty well anywhere as long as there is reasonable sun.

At a quick glance as one passes by, the tall stems of many flowers look almost orchid-like but second glance will show you that they are closer to daisy-like with a dark eye. It flowers from late winter through spring but I see seed is forming already on these heads. The foliage is narrow and tallish, almost like a reed.

Onixotis are really easy bulbs to grow, though we fear they may have slightly invasive tendencies and prefer to keep them in designated areas. Seed is set freely and the bulbs themselves multiply readily so it is probably better not to have them growing through small shrubs or perennials.

Some bulbs have the weird ability to pull themselves down to greater depth in the soil, no matter what level you plant them at (others crowd themselves upwards). Onyxotis are burrowers so you often need to dig quite deeply if you want to lift them. Raised from seed, they reach flowering size in their second season.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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