Top

Scientific Name
Synonyms
Common Names
Family
Origin
Naturalised Distribution
Cultivation
Habitat
Distinguishing Features
Habit
Stems and Leaves
Flowers and Fruit
Reproduction and Dispersal
Impacts
Similar Species
Legislation
Sources
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Click on images to enlarge


infestation (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


habit of yellow-flowered form (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


large strap-like leaves and few-branched flowering stem (Photo: Jackie Miles and Max Campbell)


elongated flower cluster (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


close-up of tubular flowers (Photo: Jackie Miles and Max Campbell)


yellow flowers (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


immature fruit (Photo: Rob and Fiona Richardson)


close-up of immature fruit (Photo: Rob and Fiona Richardson)


mature fruit and seeds (Photo: Ros Shepherd)


habit of the very similar Chasmanthe bicolor (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


infestation of Chasmanthe bicolor in southern NSW (Photo: Sheldon Navie)

African cornflag
Chasmanthe floribunda

Scientific Name

Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.) N.E. Br.

Synonyms

Antholyza aethiopica auct. non L.
Antholyza floribunda Salisb.
Chasmanthe aethiopica auct. non (L.) N.E. Br.
Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.) N.E. Br. var. duckittii G.J. Lewis ex L. Bol.
Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.) N.E. Br. var. floribunda
Pentamenes aethiopica
auct. non Allan

Common Names

African corn-flag, African cornflag, Aunt Eliza, chasmanthe, cobra lily, lion's paw, madflower

Family

Iridaceae

Origin

Native to southern Africa (i.e. Cape Province in South Africa).

Naturalised Distribution

This species is widely naturalised in the temperate regions of southern Australia (i.e. in the coastal districts of central New South Wales, in southern and western Victoria, in Tasmania, in south-eastern and southern South Australia, and in large parts of southern and western Western Australia).

Also naturalised overseas in south-western USA (i.e. California).

Cultivation

African cornflag (Chasmanthe floribunda) is widely cultivated as a garden ornamental in southern Australia.

Habitat

A weed of roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, parks, grasslands, open woodlands, coastal sites and waterways (i.e. riparian vegetation) in temperate regions.

Distinguishing Features

Habit

A large herbaceous plant (0.5-1.5 m or more tall), re-growing each autumn from a long-lived (i.e. perennial) underground bulb-like storage structure (i.e. corm). These slightly-flatenned (i.e. depressed-globose) corms (4-7 cm across) are covered in papery netted fibres, which are made up of the remains of old leaf bases.

Stems and Leaves

The upright flowering stems (i.e. scapes) are rounded (i.e. terete), hairless (i.e. glabrous) and usually have a few branches. These stems are most often purplish in colour, or occasionally greenish.

The large, strap-like or sword-shaped (i.e. lanceolate or ensiform), leaves (80-100 cm long and 1.8-4 cm wide) are mostly clustered together near the base of the plant. They are borne in an upright position (i.. are held erect) and have a prominent central vein (i.e. mid-vein). These leaves are hairless (i.e. glabrous), have entire margins and pointed tips (i.e. acute apices). There are also 1-3 smaller, alternately arranged, leaves produced along the flowering stems (i.e. scapes).

Flowers and Fruit

The elongated flower clusters (i.e. spikes) are usually 15-25 cm long and have about 20-40 flowers. The flowers (up to 7.5 cm long) are arranged in two rows on opposite sides of the flower stem. At the base of each flower is a pair of small, membranous, bracts (1-1.5 cm long). These bracts are usually reddish-brown, or occasionally green. The flowers have six 'petals' (i.e. tepals or perianth segments) that are fused together for most of their length (i.e. into a perianth tube 3-4.5 cm long). This tube is quite narrow (8-12 mm wide) near the base and have a broader, cylindrical, upper portion. The 'petals' are orange-red, or occasionally yellow, in colour and the uppermost 'petal' lobe (18-33 mm long and 7-9 mm wide) is much longer than the others (10-17 mm long and 4-7 mm wide). The three anthers (7-8 mm long) are held outside the flower tube (i.e. they are exserted) and are borne on stalks (i.e. filaments) 5-5.5 cm long. At the base of the flower tube is the ovary (6-9 mm long), which is topped with a long style. The style is divided into three branches near its tip, each branch topped with a stigma. Flowering occurs mostly during winter and spring (i.e. from July to October).

The fruit is a capsule (10-15 mm across) that is irregularly rounded in shape (i.e. irregularly globose). Each capsule  contains several (6-10) large, rounded, orange seeds (5-7 mm across) that have a smooth surface texture.

Reproduction and Dispersal

This species reproduces by seed and also vegetatively via its underground corms. These corms can regularly produce smaller corms (i.e. cormlets) around each parent corm.

The seeds and corms are spread in dumped garden waste and contaminated soil. The seeds are also dispersed by birds and water.

Impacts

African cornflag (Chasmanthe floribunda) is a significant environmental weed in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It is also regarded as a minor environmental weed or sleeper weed in Tasmania and New South Wales.

This garden escape often becomes naturalised along roadsides and in waste areas, from where it spreads into urban bushland, open woodlands and grasslands. These populations are thought represent a serious threat to grassy woodlands, dry and damp sclerophyll forests and riparian vegetation in Victoria and throughout south-western Western Australia. It has been present for some time in several conservation sites in south-eastern South Australia (e.g. Moana Sands Conservation Park, Ferguson Conservation Park and Sandy Creek Conservation Park).

Similar Species

There are two forms of this species present in Australia, and they are sometimes regarded as two distinct varieties. The more common form has orange or red flowers (i.e. Chasmanthe floribunda var. floribunda), while the less common form has yellow flowers (i.e. Chasmanthe floribunda var. duckittii).

African cornflag (Chasmanthe floribunda) is very similar to Chasmanther bicolor and relatively similar to montbretia ( Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) and bulbil watsonia ( Watsonia meriana var. bulbillifera). These species can be distinguished by the following differences:

Legislation

Not declared or considered noxious by any state government authorities.

Sources

Anonymous (2006). Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.) N.E. Br. African cornflag. Plants Profile. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CHFL9. National Plant Data Center, National Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

Anonymous (2006). Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, National Genetic Resources Program, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Beltsville, Maryland, USA.

Anonymous (2006). National List of Naturalised Invasive and Potentially Invasive Garden Plants. Version 1.2. World Wildlife Fund - Australia (WWF Australia).

Barker, B., Barker, R., Jessop, J. and Vonow, H. (2005). Census of South Australian Vascular Plants. Fifth Edition. The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide and State Herbarium, Government of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia.

Blood, K. (2001). Environmental Weeds: a field guide for SE Australia. C.H. Jerram and Associates - Science Publishers, Mt. Waverley, Victoria.

Buchanan, A.M. (2007). A Census of the Vascular Plants of Tasmania and Index to The Student s Flora of Tasmania. Web Edition for 2007. http://www.tmag.tas.gov.au/Herbarium/TasVascPlants.pdf. Tasmanian Herbarium, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), Hobart, Tasmania.

Csurhes, S. and Edwards, R. (1998). Potential Environmental Weeds in Australia: Candidate Species for Preventative Control. Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Brisbane, Queensland.

Esau, J. and Notten, A. (2001). Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.)N.E.Br. var. duckittii G.J.Lewis ex L.Bol. PlantZAfrica.com. http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/chasmanduckitt.htm. South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa.

Goldblatt, P. (2003). 12. Chasmanthe N. E. Brown. In: Flora of North America - North of Mexico, Volume 26, Magnoliophyta: Liliadae (eds: Flora of North America Editorial Committee). Oxford University Press, New York, USA.

James T.A. and Brown, E.A. (1993). Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.) N.E.Br. New South Wales Flora Online. PlantNET - The Plant Information Network System of Botanic Gardens Trust. http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au. Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney, New South Wales.

Keighery, G. and Longman, V. (2004). The naturalized vascular plants of Western Australia. 1: checklist, environmental weeds and distribution in IBRA regions. Plant Protection Quarterly 19: 12-32.

Spooner, A., Carpenter, J., Smith, G. and Spence, K. (2007). *Chasmanthe floribunda (Salisb.) N.E.Br. African cornflag. FloraBase: The Western Australian Flora. http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au. Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), Perth, Western Australia.

Richardson, F.J., Richardson, R.G. and Shepherd, R.C.H. (2006). Weeds of the South-east: an identification guide for Australia. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Meredith, Victoria.

Walsh, N.G. and Stajsic, V. (2007). A Census of the Vascular Plants of Victoria. Eighth Edition. National Herbarium of Victoria, South Yarra, Victoria.