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the web of life in southern Africa

Apodolirion buchananii (Natal Crocus)

icukudwane, indwa [Zulu]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Asparagales > Family: Amaryllidaceae > Genus: Apodolirion

Apodolirion buchananii (Natal Crocus), Karkloof rd, Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [image Peter R. Warren , from iNaturalist]

Distribution and habitat

Recorded from South Africa (Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga) and Swaziland. Found scattered in grassland; blooms after fire (Pooley 1998).

Life cycle

  • The bulb is about 15 mm in diameter and has a long, fibrous neck enclosing the ovary. The ovary is below ground, which is thought to give it protection in the summer heat.
  • Flowers August to September, at which time there are no leaves on the plant (hysteranthous).
  • There are no records I have found of visitors to flowers of Apodolirion buchananii. As they are sweetly scented, perhaps pollination is by moths, but this is a guess.
  • Leaves grow after the flowers and die back in winter.


  • In Zulu herbal medicine, decoctions of the bulb are drunk as a laxative, or administered as an enema for stomach problems (Hutchings et al. 1996).


  • Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. and Cunningham, A. 1996. Zulu Medicinal Plants - an Inventory. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A Field Guide to Wild Flowers KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban. p. 106

Text by Hamish Robertson