Wednesday 22 May
Cape bugle-lily (Watsonia borbonica)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Cape bugle-lily fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Cape bugle-lily description
The Cape bugle-lily is an attractive herbaceous plant, with strikingly coloured, trumpet-shaped flowers, that grows within the unique and diverse fynbos habitat of the Cape Floristic Region. The broad, pointed green leaves give the base of the plant a fan-like appearance, and surround an elongated vertical flower spike, which bears up to 20 flowers. The large ornate flowers vary in colour, from pale to light purple, and have a slight scent. The fruit of the Cape bugle-lily is an egg-shaped, woody capsule, which contains many small, oblong winged seeds (2) (3).
- Watsonia ardernei, Watsonia pyramidata.
- Height: up to 2 m (2)
Conservation International: Biodiversity Hotspots:
- Cape Floristic Region
- An area occupying about 90,000 square kilometres in South Africa that contains an incredibly high diversity of plant species (around 8,700 species), of which 68 percent are found no where else.
- A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
- The natural shrubland vegetation occurring in the south-western and southern Cape of South Africa, holding the greatest diversity of plant species in the world. Fynbos is characterised by tall shrubs with large leaves, heath-like shrubs, wiry reed-like plants, and bulbous herbs.
- A plant that normally lives for more than two seasons. After an initial period, the plant produces flowers once a year.
- The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
- Animals that in the act of visiting a plant’s flowers transfer pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
ITIS (January, 2010)
PlantZ Africa (January, 2010)
Department of Primary Industries Information Notes: Wild Watsonia (January, 2010)
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (January, 2010)
- Goldblatt, P. (1987) Notes on the variation and taxonomy of Watsonia borbonica (W. pyramidata, W. ardernei) in the southwestern cape, South Africa. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 74: 570-572.
SANBI’s Integrated Biodiversity Information System (January, 2010)
Interim Red Data List of South African Plant Taxa (January, 2010)
- Cowling, R. and Richardson, D. (1995) Fynbos: South Africa’s unique floral kingdom. Fernwood Press, South Africa.
Fauna and Flora International (January, 2010)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Cape bugle-lily biology
The Cape bugle-lily is a perennial plant that flowers between October and December (6). It is a deciduous species, and will grow through autumn, winter and spring, before dying back after flowering, and remaining dormant in the summer. After natural fires, which kill much of the above ground vegetation, dense stands of the Cape bugle-lily often sprout from underground stem swellings bearing vegetative buds. Flowers subsequently appear on the new shoots, and large solitary bees, which are attracted by the sweet, sugar-rich nectar, are the main pollinators. Following pollination, a mass of seeds are produced, which are dispersed across the landscape by the wind (2).Top
Cape bugle-lily rangeTop
Cape bugle-lily habitat
The Cape bugle-lily grows amongst fynbos shrubland, where it is most abundant on rocky sandstone soils, or well-drained granite, clay and sandy soils on mountain slopes, up to an altitude of 1,000 metres above sea level (2) (5).Top
Cape bugle-lily status
This species has yet to be classified by the IUCN.Top
Cape bugle-lily threats
The Cape bugle-lily is restricted to the botanically rich habitat of the Cape Floristic Region where conservation is now a high priority. Substantial areas of this region have previously been lost through urbanisation, and habitat conversion for agriculture and commercial plantations. Around urban areas, the natural fires, upon which fynbos plants are dependant for reproduction, are suppressed, reducing many species’ ability to reproduce, while wetlands may be drained and groundwater extracted (2).
Although relatively restricted in range, dense stands of the Cape bugle-lily remain in some places, and it is currently not considered threatened. However, the subspecies W. b. ardeneri has an extremely limited distribution, and due to continuing threats, it is listed as Vulnerable on the South African Interim Red Data List (7).
In Australia, the Cape bugle-lily is considered an environmental weed, as its ability to reproduce quickly and persist in arid regions, allows it to out-compete native species for nutrients and space. The species is actively eradicated using chemical pesticides, machinery, livestock grazing and by limiting the species dispersal (3).Top
Cape bugle-lily conservation
Conservation measures currently being undertaken in the Cape Floristic Region include the restoration of the landscape to its natural state, through the burning and cutting of non-native plants, and the purchasing of land to protect against the threats of encroaching urban development and agriculture (8) (9). At present, only a small proportion of the Cape Floristic Region lies in reserves, and many of the protected areas are privately owned, with the level of protection provided variable. To ensure the preservation of Cape bugle-lily populations, a larger network of protected areas should be established with greater connectivity between reserves (8). In addition, the conservation organisation Fauna and Flora International are coordinating projects that promote ecologically and financially sustainable cultivation of fynbos plants to provide long-term, community directed protection of the fragile ecosystem (9).Top
Find out more
For more information on the Cape Floristic Region and its conservation, see:
For more information on African plants, see:
Authenticated (15/05/2010) by John Manning, Research Botanist, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch, South Africa.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.