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  Bowiea volubilis CACTUSPEDIA       


Bowiea volubilis is an odd-looking long lived bulbous plant that is easy to grow.  It  produces frothy strands of foliage and myriads of yellowish-green delicate flowers in late winter/late spring.
 

Description: The Bowiea volubilis is an interesting long living perennial bulb. It is generally considered a succulent in the broad sense.
Bulb: The pale green onion-like caudex (bulb) can be op to 25 cm in diameter (could take 70 years) and grows half buried in the soil.
Stem: Each year in  late winter, the bulb develops a new branched scrambling or twining, green flowering stem (raceme) that somewhat make it looks like an elongated asparagus but is much more tender, the stem (wine) can reach 2.5(-5) m., it grows with great vigour and determination, and hangs up any nearby support it finds on its way. As it matures, dense lacy branches form and give a full appearance. When fall arrives, the growth dies back going into a period of dormancy.
Leaves: There are no leaves except for a small quantity of true leaves that emerge from the bulb, they are small, very short lived and are soon replaced by the flowering stems of true scales leaves that drop rapidly.
Flowers: Starry, greenish or white up to 1 cm wide, scattered on the long twining raceme. Blooms are produced only in moderate to full sun where the plant produces dozens of flowers on each shoot. The flowers have an unpleasant smell.
Blooming season: Spring and sometime will bloom twice in a year.
 


New growth in spring

Dry stem (wine) in winter.

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Family: Liliaceae (Hyacinthaceae)

Scientific name:  Bowiea volubilis Harv. et Hook. f. Harvey 1867

Origin: The genus Bowiea comprises only one species, Bowiea volubilis , and it is found in Southern + Easter Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania)

Habitat: Grows in peat, and stands a lots of water and sun.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common Names include: Climbing Onion, Sea Onion, Zulo Potato.

Etymology: Bowiea is named after the British plant collector James Bowie (1789-1869).

Synonyms:  

  • Ophiobostryx volubilis, Skeels 1911
  • Schizobasopsis volubilis, Macbride 1918
  • Bowiea kilimandscharica Mildbraed 1934
  • "Bowiea nana"
 



Cultivation: This plant truly thrives on neglect. An old favourite that’s easy to grow and puts on a fanciful display but it took years to acclimate; this is not a plant for the impatient gardener. It likes well drained, organic soil (e.g. use a mixture for cactus  + normal potting soil) and regular watering during the active growing season. Let the soil become rather dry before watering again
Stop gradually watering when the stalk dries out after blooming, in summer or else the bulbs may rot. Start watering when the stalk starts growing again in late winter. ) It can be planted undergrounds, with a thin soil layer on it, or just leave it “on” the ground, it will root anyway, and the chances of getting rot are smaller this way rather than planted undergrounds (although it grows slower). Protect from heat in summer. Light shade to full sun, keep bulb shaded.
Mealy bugs seem to be a problem, especially in older specimens that have formed a clump of bulbs. They hide in the residue of the old, dry, dead bulb scales.


Propagation:
Seeds, detach offsets when repotting , but can also be reproduced by dividing the bulbs. In fact any small (or large) fragment of a nice green bulb scale will sprout little baby bulbs if allowed to callus on the edges when simply placed on a bright windowsill. Just leave them until they have pulled all the nourishment they can from the "mother" bulb scale which will then dry up, then remove them and pot up.

Warning:
Most authors write that the bulb is highly poisonous, from root to top, but H. Jacobsen claims it can be eaten.

 

 

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery BOWIEA

 



 

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This old page has been moved! Click the link next on the right to enter the new Enciclopedia of Bulbs. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.