Glorious Gloriosa

We’re putting far too much into the recycle bin these days. Of course, it’s better than putting stuff into the garbage, but there are so many flyers, discarded newspapers, cartons, cans, bottles and jars–it seems to be getting worse all the time. I’m thinking seriously about putting a notice on our mailbox that says, “ADDRESSED MAIL ONLY!”

However, it hasn’t gotten to the point where I would even think about cancelling my subscriptions to garden catalogues. With impeccable timing, they arrive at the very moment when I’ve gotten over my end-of-summer garden weariness and have begun to look forward to spring with ever increasing enthusiasm.

Gloriosa Natural 03Usually, I order bulbs and plants based on my wish list, but sometimes an impulse buy will creep in. Last year, it was an unfamiliar plant called Gloriosa Superba ‘Rothschildiana’ and, even though this beauty would not be able to withstand our winter temperatures, I could not resist. In spring, the tubers arrived and I planted them in a clay pot after all danger of frost was past.

What a wonderful surprise was in store for me. New growth emerged from those little tubers and quickly grew into a small vine with the most exquisite buds and flowers: oh, what flowers! Bright red with white at the edges and yellow near the base.

Starting from its origins in tropical Africa and India, Gloriosa can now be found growing in many parts of the world. In his book, Summer Bulbs, Henry Jaworski writes, “I once saw it covering trash heaps elegantly in a Balinese village.”

Its common names include flame lily, climbing lily,creeping lily, glory lily, gloriosa lily, tiger claw, and fire lily.

Wikipedia reveals one more interesting fact about Gloriosa superba:


broochThis species is the national flower of Zimbabwe. In 1947, while she was still the crown princess, Queen Elizabeth II received a diamond brooch (the Flame Lily Brooch) in the shape of this flower for her twenty-first birthday while traveling in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe.

All parts of the plant are highly toxic; in fact, it has been used to produce poison for arrows.


Gloriosa Painting

Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’, watercolour, 10-1/2″ x 10″



23 thoughts on “Glorious Gloriosa

  1. I saw you at my blog today and realised I haven’t seen a post from you for ages so I’ve popped over and found, yet again, that I have been mysteriously unsubscribed to your blog. 😦 This has happened so many times now – it makes me cranky. I wish WordPress would fix it. Anyway, hello!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful flower ‘swimming’ in a beautiful watercolour!
    It’s an amazing vine; we had one in a container few years back and it flowered in abandon, twining gently on a clipped Fagus. It even produced seeds, and I germinate a few for fun. Then I lost the rhizome over the winter…

    Liked by 1 person

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