Albuca heliglabra for Sale


Albuca 'heliglabra' - south of Oudtshoorn

Albuca 'heliglabra' (heli for helix and glabra for smooth) is the horticultural name that I use at present for this attractive and interesting bulb from the Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp districts until an official description is done or revealed. The bulb is a winter grower with very attractive smooth greyish green leaves.

Albuca heliglabra in habitat 1

Albuca heliglabra in habitat south of Oudtshoorn.

It is possible that many collectors or even garden enthusiasts already possess this bulb, likely under the name Albuca spiralis.

The name Albuca spiralis has often been applied to this species, or a similar bulb with curly, smooth, greyish green leaves. The application of this name is an error however.

Albuca heliglabra leaves


Looking at the original description of Albuca spiralis it will be noticed that the A spiralis refers to a plant with grandular leaves, similar to Albuca viscosa. Besides other difference, in the case of A viscosa the tip of the tepals are hooded, while in the case of Astroloba spiralis they are hinged.

namaquensis and spiralis 176358

Herbarium specimens of A spiralis and A namaquensis. Courtesy Kew Harbarium..

Albuca spiralis from  Manning

The description of Albuca spiralis from Manning at al.The Colour Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs.

A recent suggestion by a botanist was that the bulb (heliglabra) is probably A namaquensis. This may indeed be true, however some questions remain. Albuca namaquensis apparently has muricate leaves. Albuca heliglabra has smooth leaves except for a few protrusions widely spaced. Also the image from Kew herbarium reveals the fruit of Albuca namaquensis to be about 1.5 cm long while the fruit from A heliglabra is around 2.2 cm long.

The A namaquensis group is variable and related plants from e.g. the Tanqua Karoo have short peduncles while Albuca heliglabra has fairly long peduncles. The Tanqua Karoo plants do share the relatively large fruit of A heliglabra from the Little Karoo.

Albuca heliglabra flower 1

Flower with hinged inner tepals.

The bulb is about in 3.5 cm across, somewhat ovate or roundish but notably adaxially depressed. The leaves are not clamped at the base.

The peduncle (Calitzdorp specimen) is about 30 cm tall. The fruit is about 2.2 cm long. The seed flat, black, irregularly shaped, roundish to obovate, +- 3 mm across. Fairly large in comparison to A viscosa and A spiralis.

The flowers are nodding and the outer tip of the inner tepals are hinged, similar to A spiralis.

A heliglabra bulb


A heliglabra dried inflorescens

Dry infloresence with seed.

The larger seedlings from this species will be sold on Plant Auction for now. Next season (2019) I hope to have enough available to add them to a price list.