Showy lampranthus (Lampranthus amoenus)

Lampranthus amoenus flower
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Showy lampranthus fact file

Showy lampranthus description

GenusLampranthus (1)

All Lampranthus species are large and colourful plants (4), but the common name of this species hints that it is particularly striking. Indeed, its scientific species name amoenus means ‘beautiful’ in Latin (5). The leaves of the showy lampranthus, which measure up to 40 millimetres long, are slightly spreading. The flowers may be any shade between white and purple (2), and appear in clusters of three, each measuring about 30 millimetres across. The woody fruit capsule of the showy lampranthus has five segments, with each compartment bearing seeds (5).

Height: up to 40 cm (2)

Showy lampranthus biology

Between July and October, the showy lampranthus is in bloom (2). Like other Lampranthus species, it can be presumed that the showy lampranthus is pollinated by insects at midday, when the flowers are fully open. The leaves of Lampranthus species are often swollen with water, an adaptation to ensure the plant can endure long, hot and dry periods. The plant is also adapted to ensure the survival of its seeds in a habitat where water can not always be guaranteed. The seeds are only released when the woody fruit capsule in which they are borne gets wet. The capsule swells up and bursts open, releasing the seeds to the ground, where they will germinate. This ensures the plant does not waste precious seeds by releasing them when there are no rains, and thus when there is insufficient water for germination (6).


Showy lampranthus range

Endemic to the Cape Floristic Region, a region of remarkable plant diversity in south-western South Africa. Within this region, the showy lampranthus is distributed from Malmesbury to the Cape Peninsula (2).


Showy lampranthus habitat

The showy lampranthus grows on sandy flats (2).


Showy lampranthus status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the Red Data List of Southern African Plants (3).


Showy lampranthus threats

The showy lampranthus has been classified as Endangered on the Red Data List of Southern African Plants, but there is no detailed information available indicating what threats this species faces (3). However, threats are likely to include urban development, the encroachment of agriculture, or the invasion of alien plant species, as theses are threats which are known to be currently impacting the habitat of the Cape Floristic Region (7).


Showy lampranthus conservation

Within the Cape Floristic Region, there are a number of protected areas (8), and a number of conservation organisations are working to conserve this botanically rich habitat. Conservation actions include purchasing land to protect it from the threats of encroaching agriculture and urban development (9), the removal of alien plants, and the establishment of new protected areas (7). Such measures should hopefully ensure the survival of this striking plant in the wild.


Find out more

For further information on the Cape Floristic Region and its conservation see:



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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 species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
The beginning of growth, usually following a period of dormancy and in response to favourable conditions. For example, the sprouting of a seedling from a seed.
The transfer of pollen grains from the anther (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.


  1. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  2. Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J. (2000) Cape Plants: A Conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. National Botanical Institute of South Africa, Pretoria .
  3. Hilton-Taylor, C. (1996) Red Data List of Southern African Plants. Strelitzia 4. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.
  4. Court, D. (2000) Succulent Flora of Southern Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  5. Paterson-Jones, C. and Manning, J. (2007) Ecoguide Fynbos. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa.
  6. PlantZAfrica (March, 2008)
  7. Conservation International: Biodiversity Hotspots (February, 2008)
  8. UNEP-WCMC: Cape Floral Protected Areas of South Africa (February, 2008)
  9. Fauna and Flora International (February, 2008)

Image credit

Lampranthus amoenus flower  
Lampranthus amoenus flower

© Martens R. / National Botanic Garden of Belgium

National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Domein van Bouchout
B-1860 Meise


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