Thursday, January 14, 2010

Littonia modesta. Climbing Lily, Climbing Bell.

If you are looking for a neat bulb that is different then Littonia might be for you. A native of Natal, South Africa, this is a genus of seven species closely related to Gloriosa and belongs to the Colchiaceae a division of the former large family Liliaceae.

Beautiful foliage of a fresh soft green colour adorns the green stems and the leaves are arranged alternately, opposite and whorled all on the same stem.
Unlike lilies the stems keep growing after the flowers have finished and may reach up to 1.8metres high. It climbs by tendrils attached to the end of the leaves and they will wrap around most plants or climbing frames.

Flowers are a true golden yellow colour bell shaped about 5 cm across solitary in leaf axils, the six hanging petals are pointed. Usually there are five flowers per stem and they are good for picking.

After flowering large green seed pods appear which eventually split to produce large red brown, pea sized, seeds. Sow the seed normally but be aware it can stay dormant for a few years as it has adapted to the variable South African climate. The new tubers will take 2 -3 years to flower.

It was named after Dr Litton a Professor of Botany at the University of Dublin Ireland and introduced to England in 1853.

Easily grown in normal garden conditions with drained soil for its unusual forked bulbs to grow in, but if the ground is not well drained lift and store the bulbs in winter.

In South Africa the cultivar Littonia modesta ‘Keitii’ produces large and more flowers per stem and is a stronger plant.

In New Zealand it has been crossed with Sandersonia to create a bigeneric cross XSantoina ‘Golden Lights’ which is being evaluated for  the cut flower market.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Lovely light and bloom! I love the color... very cool photo! Poetic.