Ornithogalum saundersiae

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Botanical Name
Ornithogalum saundersiae
Hyacinthaceae - The hyacinth family.
or-nith-oh-GAL-um sawn-DIZ-zee-ay
Common Name(s)
English: Giant chincherinchee
Afrikaans: Reuse tjienkerientjee
Plant Group
  • Bulb / Corm / Rhizome / Tuber / Epigeal bulb Bulbs: are made up of fleshy scales as in an onion Corm: a short, swollen, underground stem that is hard and not fleshy as in a gladiolus Tuber: a solid, fleshy, underground, storage organ as in a potato Rhizome: an underground, horizontal, swollen stem at the base of the plant as in an iris Epigeal bulb: bulbs that rest above the ground with only the roots anchoring the plant to the earth as in albuca
Plant Size
  • Large
    Tree18m to 25m
    Shrub3m to 4m
    Perennial/ground cover75cm to 1m
    Bulb80cm to 1.2m
    Succulent1m to 1.5m
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Deciduous Plants which completely lose their foliage for part of the year.
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Water Moderate These plants will need some extra watering compared to water-wise plants. Plant them together, in at least some shade and in a convenient proximity to the house so that grey water can be utilised during times of drought.
Specific Information

These are beautiful flowers and grow wonderfully in Gauteng. Sadly all the stock I brought to the Eastern Cape was eaten by mole rats and lily borers. If you are not plagued by these pests, the bulbs are well worth growing for their clean-cut, long lasting flowers and attractive foliage.

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star-shaped, large black ovary, on rounded head

  • Summer to Autumn Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • white
Growth Rate
  • Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Cut Flowers Plants that provide flowers suitable for ornamental uses.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Mass Planting Plants useful for filling a large area with just one or a few kinds of plants spaced close together. Creates a bold, dramatic effect and to reduces maintenance.
  • Water Features These plants may have dramatic, lush foliage or graceful form. They do not shed excessive leaves and do not have invasive root systems.
Distribution and Habitat

on rocky outcrops in hilly country in Mpumalanga, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal .

Planting Suggestions

Ornithogalum saundersiae prefers well drained, humus-rich soil. Plant bulbs about 3-5 cm deep and 15-20 cm apart, in groups of 15 or 20, during August and September. Keep the bulbs moist during the growing season. Increase the amount of water given just before the flowering period. After flowering reduce the amount of water as the leaves die down. They need very little water in winter, as this is their rest period. Once settled the bulbs multiply rapidly to form dense stands. Do not disturb them for four years, when they can be lifted and separated in winter.

Medicinal Uses

This species is extremely poisonous and has caused cattle losses in Mpumalanga and Swaziland . Symptoms of poisoning are temporary blindness, gastro-enteritis, polyuria, restlessness and a rapid pulse.

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