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Massonia pygmaea - plant of the month December 2016

Massonia pygmaea (Kunth) ssp pygmaea is a member of the Asparagaceae (formally Hyacinthaceae) and was previously known as Neobakeria heterandra and Polyxena bakeri.  It is endemic to  South Africa, occuring mostly in the Northern to Western Cape regions where it often grows at high altitudes. Apart from M. jasminiflora, it  is the smallest of the named Massonia species, individual leaves rarely attaining more than 6cm in length.  The flowers can be purist white to pink in colour which, en masse, combine to give a 'shaving-brush' effect .

 Best grown in pots, in sandy free draining potting mixture, in full sun, drying off completely when dormant. It is usually the first of the Massonias to flower, the blooms appearing in early to mid October but  delayed watering and the vagaries of the weather can see this plant in flower into early December. Some protection from extreme cold weather is necessary. Bulbs do eventually divide and propogation is fairly straight forward from seed.

There is a subspecies of Massonia pygmaea, Massonia pygmaea spp. kamiesbergensis which differs in having glabrous leaves as opposed to the pustulate or papilate leaves of the nominate species.

Ray Drew