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More Information About Eriospermum

Eriospermum is a small genus of just over 100 species of ephemeral winter flowering bulbs from sub-saharan Africa, primarily the Cape region of South Africa. Eriospermum is an exotic, esoteric, fragrant, flowering perennial that is closely related to Ornithogalum. The name Eriospermum, when translated from Greek means wooly seeds...a reference to the hirsute nature of the seeds. Many Eriospermum species prefer a climate that is dry in the summer and rainy in the winter, so we recommend planting these plants in well drained, low nutrient, rocky soil within the root zone of a summer active shrub or tree that can take up extra moisture and prevent root rot. The growing point of the plant should be mulched over in the summer to prevent it from drying out.

Eriospermum are small plants, for small gardens. Do not plant this next to a running plant or close to the base of a large plant or they will be swallowed up. A rock-garden or container would make an ideal home. The growing season for Eriospermum starts in autumn when the flower stalk emerges from the potato-like tuber and blooms fragrantly for a short period. The flower is ephemeral and quickly disappears but is followed by a single, leaf that lasts until the end of the following spring. The leaves are frequently narrow and finely dissected, but there are wide-leaved examples too. Good companions for Eriospermum include Lycoris, Ipheion, certain Iris, Narcissus, Nothoscordum, Oxalis, Veronica, and certain Cyclamen.

In its native habitat, Eriospermum is rarely bothered by herbivores and so it should be fairly mole, vole, deer-resistant and rabbit-resistant in your garden.

The taxonomic history of Eriospermum is mixed, but DNA studeies show that it is distantly related to Aspidistra, Dasylirion, Danae, Disporopsis, Liriope, Ophiopogon, Convallaria, Ruscus, and Polygonatum. There is no common English name for the plant...the name baboon onion is a translation of a common Afrikaans name.

When you are ready to buy Eriospermum for your garden, check out our online list of Eriospermum for sale below.