Moraea spp.

Name and classification

Moraea Mill. section Homeria Vent. (including Moraea collina Thunb., Moraea flaccida (Sweet) Steudel, Moraea miniata Andrews, Moraea ochroleuca (Salisbury) Drapiez, and Moraea pallida (Baker) Goldblatt)
(=Homeria Vent.)
Family Iridaceae

Common names

Cape tulip

Disseminule

seed

Description

Fruit a 3-valved loculicidal capsule with numerous seeds. Seeds angular, variously shaped, ca. 1–2 mm in diameter. Reddish-brown to black, edges forming membranous ridges. Testa glossy, rugose-reticulate. Embryo small, linear; endosperm present.

Identification considerations

Similar species

Moraea polystachya (Thunb.) Ker-Gawl. sect. Polyanthes (non-FNW)

Distribution

Britain; Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa; Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania

native to South Africa

Habitat

a variety of habitats from desert to Mediterranean shrubland to grassland; coarse, sandy soils or fertile, clay soils

General information

Moraea sect. Homeria consists of 32 species of corm-bearing perennial herbs, with attractive flowers that resemble tulips. The corms are cultivated in the Netherlands and have been imported into the U.S. These plants contain a cardiac glycoside, homeridin, that is toxic to livestock. In South Africa, poisoning from this section results in significant economic losses. Moraea miniata, M. flaccida, and M. pallida are important weedy species in South Africa, infesting overgrazed pasture, vineyards, plowed fields, abandoned fields, and disturbed roadsides, while M. collina and M. schlechteri (L. Bolus) Goldblatt are locally weedy. Moraea collina, M. miniata, and M. flaccida are crop weeds and pasture problems in Australia, while M. ochroleuca is a naturalized weed growing in natural vegetation in that country. Reproduction is by corms and seeds, which are spread by wind, water, and by adhering to and passing through animals. Some weedy species are sterile (non seed-producing) and these reproduce by cormlets surrounding the main corm. Although all species of the section Homeria are considered possible invasive pests, only five species (M. collina, M.flaccida, M. miniata, M. ochroleuca, and M. pallida) are currently listed as federal noxious weeds by the U.S.

Moraea collina  Thunb. seeds

Moraea collina Thunb. seeds

Moraea collina seeds, detail

Moraea collina seeds, detail

Moraea miniata  Andrews seeds

Moraea miniata Andrews seeds

Moraea miniata seeds, detail

Moraea miniata seeds, detail

Moraea miniata A, seed; B, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; C, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

Moraea miniata A, seed; B, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; C, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

Moraea pallida  (Baker) Goldblatt seeds

Moraea pallida (Baker) Goldblatt seeds

Moraea pallida seed, detail

Moraea pallida seed, detail

Moraea schlechteri  (L. Bolus) Goldblatt seeds

Moraea schlechteri (L. Bolus) Goldblatt seeds

Moraea schlechteri seed, detail

Moraea schlechteri seed, detail