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Moraea tricolor - plant of the month March 2010

Whilst visiting the Alpine house in the RHS gardens at Wisley, I came across this little gem - Moraea tricolor. Resembling an Iris in many ways, the genus Moraea is concentrated in the southwestern Cape region of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Moraea tricolor itself is between 5 -15cm tall and comes from wet sandy flats in areas of the southwestern Cape, the geographic heart of the Cape floral region.

You can see quite clearly in this image, the specialised style branches in the centre of the flowers, which are flattened and petaloid, common to all members of the genus Moraea.

 Requiring cold glass to succeed; best grown in a well-drained, fairly heavy soil, this species responds well to supplemental feed during the growing season.



A pot full like this is a joy to behold. They are fragrant, with a perfume reminiscent  of 'Old Spice'  - but you have to be quick, each flower only lasting a few  hours.

Ray Drew