April 2, 2011

The lone bulb species, Melasphaerula ramosa

Melasphaerula ramosa

Here is a rarely seen bulb plant from South Africa which happens to be the only species in the genus Melasphaerula; meet Melasphaerula ramosa, a bulb plant, (well, actually a corm) from a genus that finds itself currently placed within the Iris Family. Melaspharula, or 'Fairy Bells' is easy to grow in a cold glasshouse, but it is hard to find, there is only one source that I know of for the corms. It therefore  remains an uncommon plant, seen only in the most well stocked alpine houses of the geekiest of plant collectors. ( ahem).

It's not difficult to grow, by any means, (OK...it can become a weed in warmer zones where conditions are to its liking, such as in Israel, and perhaps Greece), but as a potted bulb plant, it's wonderful. A cloud of pale yellow flowers that look like a cloud of tiny moths. I found mine at Paul Christian in the UK, the bulbs are inexpensive,  a few US dollars each, and you don't need a permit to order them. Like many winter rainfall South African bulbs, they should be potted in the autumn, and allowed to go dry in the summer. There are 6 bulbs in this pot, and they were potted in September of last year.


  1. Your pictures are simply gorgeous!!

    Victoria http://victoriaspatiogarden.blogspot.com/

  2. What a cool looking plant! Nice.

  3. What a beauty! I have never seen or heard of this plant, but I love the delicate nature of the flowers and how they cascade down around the green foliage. So pretty - thanks for sharing!

  4. One of my favourites. My non-geek variety, just appeared along with seeds or a bought in plant. We were at the Worcester Botanical Garden Nursery - and I overheard two women - Try this it will spread everywhere, Oh no sniffed the other, don't want that! It does seed vigorously, and it makes bulbs within the sheaves of leaves above the ground. Beautiful dancing little flowers, but keep an eye on it.

  5. iris geek12:10 AM

    I love this corm.I saw it in an antique book about bulbs and spent months locating a source, I found a nursery in west Virginia that would part with two corms off his mother plant. $12.00 and a 4 hour drive. The flowers on mine are near white with purple and grass like leaves. I let it go dormant after it blooms and stick it in a closet ,I take it out and water it in October and by Christmas its covered with flowers.I guess I have to divide it soon it seems to be getting crowded


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