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The Hyacinth Family: Massonia

Massonia is a genus in the Hyacinth Family (Hyacinthaceae). It is in the tribe Massonieae, which includes the closely related genera Polyxena, Lachenalia, and Daubenya. Massonia have two leaves, usually prostrate; and the flowers are in sessile umbles, and usually are white. Almost all the species in Massonieae are winter-growing, and should be well suited to growing in Mediterranean climates that are nearly frost-free.

Massonia depressa is the largest species, with leaves up to 7 inches long and 6 inches wide. It occurs in Namaqualand, and the Cape provinces. It is winter-growing. Flowers are white, and it blooms in December in the Northern Hemisphere. The form shown here has smooth and glossy light grey-green leaves.

Massonia echinata is one of the commonest members of the exclusively African genus. It is native to the winter-rainfall regions of the Western Cape in the Republic of South Africa.

Massonia jasminiflora (c) 2002 James E. Shields.  All rights reserved. Massonia jasminiflora (c) 2002 James E. Shields.  All rights reserved. Massonia jasminiflora is a less well-known species. This is a winter-growing bulb from a summer rainfall area. It can take some rain in summer while it is more or less dormant. The leaves appear in autumn and the plant blooms in late winter (about February in the Northern Hemisphere). It is a much smaller plant than the preceeding species, with two rounded leaves only 2 to 3 inches in diameter. It is native to South Africa. The form shown here has pustulated, color-streaked leaves.

Massonia pustulata has its leaves characterized by usually having them covered with many small bumps. It is native to the Cape provinces and Namaqualand. It is winter growing, and blooms in mid-winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Last revised: 09 January 2010
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