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What is Lampranthus?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Lampranthus is a plant genus that hails from South Africa. This genus consists of perennial plants that are often used as groundcover in gardens. The genus name was derived from the Greek words lampros, which means bright, and anthos, which means flower, referring to the large bright flowers the genus is known for.

Plants in the Lampranthus genus are also known as midday plants because their flowers open around nine in the morning and close at roughly five in the afternoon. They are also called municipal workers because the opening and closing of their flowers coincide with regular office hours. The brightly colored flowers of these plants attract pollinators, such as birds and bees, to ensure seed production. These plants are known to produce an abundant supply of seeds that only disperse once water becomes available to them.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The seeds of these plants can survive in their capsules for months at a time, and they only open when the rainy season comes. These capsules swell and open up, allowing drops of water to displace the seeds onto the ground where they will eventually germinate. The propagation of Lampranthus plants can be done through seeds or cuttings. For the seeds to germinate, they need climates that are at least 60°F (16°C). A cutting from a plant within this genus needs to be collected from the plant after it has fruited.

Lampranthus flowers bloom during the summer, between the months of June and August, and produce bright and colorful flowers in shades of red, yellow, and purple. The majority of Lampranthus species form low-growing mats. This is the main reason that this type of plant is commonly used as groundcover in gardens. Their leaves can vary from short, waxy, and cylindrical to triangular and yellow-green to blue-green. The leaves of these plants can become fat with water, which is why they are able to survive cold summers and drought spells.

The plants in the Lampranthus genus need a lot of sun in order for their flowers to bloom well. If they are planted in hot climates, however, such as Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States, they will need shade and watering during the hottest part of the day in order to survive the hot summers. Areas with prolonged periods of frost are not suitable environments for this type of plant either, though some species are known to survive even at 20°F (-7°C), such as the Lampranthus amoenus, albeit for a shorter life span than they normally have.

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    • Woman with a flower
      Woman with a flower