Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ammocharis coranica

I have another non-amaryllis bulb blooming today... not an amaryllis but an amaryllis cousin.  This is Ammocharis coranica, native to grasslands of South Africa, often in or near depressions that are seasonally wet.

I got this bulb in February, as a completely un-rooted, un-leafed bulb.  I potted it up and watered sparingly, and within two days I started seeing leaves growing.  In its native habitat, this bulb goes dormant during drought, and is able to "wake up" and start growing leaves within hours of a rain storm.  I didn't expect it to bloom for at least a year.

I brought it to work and watched it growing a cool fan of leaves for a couple months, and then last Monday I came in after the weekend and was dismayed when I saw what I initially thought was one of the leaves turning yellow.  I thought I had killed it with too much water, but then I looked closer and saw that it was a flower spike!!!  I swear this spike was not evident the previous Friday, though I may have just overlooked it since it's behind the leaves a bit.  Either way, it grew fast!

This is it on Monday, 5/8/17.

Ammocharis coranica

And this is it on Wednesday, 5/11/17.  The spike is a bit longer and the buds are starting to open.

Ammocharis coranica

And this is yesterday, Monday 5/15/17, just one week after I first noticed the flower spike.  About half the flowers have gone by and the leaves are starting to yellow.  This is a fast-lane plant that is well-adapted to take advantage of any available water in a dry region.

Ammocharis coranica

The flowers are very pretty, and are fragrant, smelling sort of like sharp powdery orange oil.  Or, as I realized when I made my after-lunch beverage, actually a lot like an Earl Grey tea bag just as it first hits the hot water.

Ammocharis coranica

This is a relatively uncommon bulb in the houseplant trade, but I really like it.  I played bee with the flowers today, and I can't wait to see if I get any seeds.

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