Lily Lion Heart

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Marvelous Massonia

Massonia is a genus in the family Hyacinthaceae, named after Francis Masson a Scottish student gardener at Kew who was sent to the Cape in 1772 on a seed-collecting expedition. There are defined by ground-hugging leaves some with mottling, and striping quite unique in various locales. Many are also sweetly-scented. Massonia are pollinated by rodents such as gerbils. They are a genus for the collector . I currently grow M. depressa, hirsuta, pygmaea, pygmaea ssp. kamiesbergensis, echinata,  pustulata, and wittebergensis. There is only 1 true alpine which is M. wittebergensis the only summer growing bulb found at 2500 m in the Drakensberg mountains. Many botanical gardens such as Wisley, and Kew grow them all as alpines in their alpine houses.

Massonia echinata in seed- De Hoop Reserve

Massonia pustulata- De Hoop Reserve- growing in pure sand

Massonia pustulata- with the hallmark pustules ( raised blister-like appendages) on the surface. The foliage has beautiful crimson mottling throughout the leaves.

Massonia depressa- glaucous coloured leaves- Matjiesfontein

Massonia depressa- Nieuwoudtville- with some crimson leaf variation

Massonia depressa- Nieuwoudtville- very heavy red-spotting on the foliage. growing near a waterfall in a very wet environment with Crassula natans.

Massonia citrina- a new species discovered in 2013. It is only found in one locale, the Rooihoogte Pass, Western Cape

Massonia citrina w. Oxalis species

Massonia bifolia- formerly Whiteheadia bifolia- Kamieskroon

Massonia bifolia  with chewed leaves, and a Mesemb in foreground- Kamieskroon

Massonia wittebergensis- Summer growing- growing in basalt- Naudes Nek, Eastern Cape, 2500M.


  1. Seeing this, I realize how superficial my observations were on that trip. But then, there was a LOT to look at and to take in.

    1. There is some much to see underfoot. Because of the richness of plant life in South Africa it is truly a sensory overload.