home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Aristea nana

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: Iridaceae > Genus: Aristea


A dwarf species, usually less than 12 cm in height. Similar in appearance to Aristea pusilla in that they are both dwarf species and have almost identical flowers. They can be found growing together. Despite looking similar, Goldblatt et al. (2005) don't consider them to be closely related. The differences are as follows (Goldblatt et al. 2005):

  Aristea nana Aristea pusilla
Leaves Have a glaucous bloom

Have wider translucent margins

Pale green leaves

Softer textured

Flowering stem Almost always unbranched and bears leaves only at the base. The terminal internode is several times longer than the rest of the stem and terminates in a single inflorescence of two, or rarely three, flowers.  
Pedicel of flower 10-12 mm long about 2 mm long
Ovary Ovoid, 4-6 mm long triangular, columnar, 12 mm long
Pollen Shed singly. Grains are dizonasulculate, having two smooth, well-defined apertures at opposite ends of the grain. Shed in tetrads. Monads with operculate structures

Distribution and habitat

Distribution extends from Robinsonís Pass in the Western Cape to Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape. Common in the Long Kloof and valleys to the north from Avontuur to Joubertina. It is found on sandy and rocky sandstone slopes in arid, marginal fynbos.


Flowering time: late July to September, rarely in early October.


  • Goldblatt, P., Dold, A.P. and Manning, J.C. 2005. Three cryptic new species of Aristea (Iridaceae) from southern Africa. Bothalia 35(1): 1-6.

Text by Hamish Robertson