Babiana Sims

Curtis's Bot.Mag. psub.t. 539 (1802)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Baboon Flower. Family Iridaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Small herbs; evergreen, or deciduous. Perennial (annual leaves and flowers). Leaves basal. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves; cormous (small, globose, fibrous tunic extended into a short neck). Helophytic to xerophytic. Leaves alternate; distichous; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery; petiolate (sheathing); sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves foetid, or without marked odour; edgewise to the stem, or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; solid; terete (rarely); linear, or lanceolate; elliptic (narrowly), or oblong to ovate, or linear (to ensiform); parallel-veined; without cross-venules; cuneate at the base (sometimes, abruptly contracted into a narrow sheathing petiole). Leaves eligulate; without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaves with a persistent basal meristem, and basipetal development. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present (usually, densely pubescent). Extra-floral nectaries absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present, or absent. Nectar secretion from the perianth (from nectaries at the tepal bases). Entomophilous, or ornithophilous, or anemophilous.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in spikes (short). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences terminal; scape short, erect, pubescent; inflorescence 3-many flowered; spatheate (2 per flower, short). Flowers sessile; bracteate (2 enclose each flower, at the base of the ovary, spathe-like, persistent, herbaceous or scarious; inner bract smaller, bifid, often with a dry brown apex, or occasionally completely brown). Bracts persistent. Flowers ebracteolate; small to large; regular, or very irregular; when irregular, zygomorphic; 3 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Perigone tube present. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled; isomerous; petaloid; without spots, or spotted; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; white (almost), or purple (mauve), or blue. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 3. Androecial members adnate; all equal; free of one another; 1 -whorled (representing the outer whorl). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 3; all more or less similar in shape; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth to isomerous with the perianth; near the top of the perianth tube, opposite the outer segments; alterniperianthial (opposite the outer perianth lobes). Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; extrorse. Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium partly petaloid, or non-petaloid; syncarpous; synstylovarious; inferior. Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular. The ‘odd’ carpel anterior. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 3. Placentation axile. Ovules 20–50 per locule (many); arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal (from the apex). Fruit 3 celled; 20–100 seeded (many). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Cotyledons 1 (coleoptile-like). Embryo straight (small). Testa without phytomelan.

Etymology. From the Dutch for "baboon" because the corms are eaten by baboons.

J. Gathe, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine (2002). Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 1, introduction, keys, ferns to monocotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study. Canberra.
  • Lepschi, B. J.; Manning, J. C. (2000). A taxonomic review of the naturalized species of Babiana (Iridaceae) occurring in Western Australia.