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Massonia jasminiflora - plant of the month December 2013

Massonia jasminiflora comes from the summer rainfall areas of  Cape Province, Orange Free State and Lesotho; further east than most other species. It is the smallest growing of the genus and varies quite significantly in its forms (recent work using DNA has 'lumped' these forms together as being the same species - Alison van der Merwe; PhD thesis, unpublished(?)).

 

 

Despite this, M. jasminiflora is morphologically quite distinctive, with umbels of purest white or pink flowers, each one 1.2-2.8cm long,  with green, blue, deep purple or almost black anthers. There are two leaves, as with all Massonias, which usually lay flat or nearly so on the ground. They are broadly oblong to ovate, acute, 3-6cm long by 2-5cm across, pustulate or smooth,  occasionally ciliate. As the specific name suggests, the flowers are highly perfumed, suggestive of Jasmine.

As with the other members of the genus, M. jasminiflora  requires the protection of an alpine house or bulb frame in regions subject to frosts. Well-drained soil and a bright,sunny aspect give the best results. They can be propagated by seed,  flowering can be expected from two to three years from sowing.

 

 

 

Ray Drew