Clivia Genus

In September 1815 the first scientific collection of a clivia was made near the mouth of the Great Fish River in the Eastern Cape Province by the intrepid explorer and naturalist William Burchell. Similar plants were collected from the same area a few years later in the early 1820’s by James Bowie and sent to England, where in 1828 Kew botanist John Lindley described them as Clivia nobilis in honour of Lady Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland.

Clivia is part of the Amaryllid family (Amaryllidaceae; Haemantheae).

There are at present six described species of Clivia:

Species Comparison Chart

  C. mirabilis C. nobilis C. robusta C. gardenii C.caulescens C. miniata
Date described 2002 1828 2004 1856 1954 1854
Distribution W escarpment SE coast E coast E escarpment NE escarpment E escarpment
Habitat Arid humic sandstone scree Sandstone slopes to coastal sand dunes Swamp forest in wet sand, drainage at cliff ledges Humic scree on sandstone Epiphytic on sandstone / trees in moss, humus on sandstone Humic scree on sandstone, rhyolites, dolerite
Flowering time October to mid-November (late Spring) August to January (Spring – Summer) late March – early August (Autumn – Winter) May to July (late Autumn to mid-Winter) September to November (Spring) August to November (Spring – early Summer)
Peduncle colour ? Green Reddish then green Reddish then green Green Green
Perianth shape pendulous tubular pendulous tubular pendulous tubular pendulous tubular pendulous tubular upright trumpet
Perianth width   11 mm   10 mm   50-70mm
Perianth length   25-40mm   40-70mm 35 mm  
Flower colour Bicoloured orange/yellow turning orange-red with age, with green tips fading as it opens Dark orange with green tips, but varies from pinkish yellow to dark red Orange-red with green tips Orange-red with pronounced green tips; but varies from yellow to brownish red Orange-red with green tips Orange with white or yellow throat; but varies from almost white through yellow to dark red
No of flowers 20-48 20-50 15-40 10-20 14-50 10-40
Stigma & style Not exserted protruding 6 mm   Exserted > 7mm protruding 6mm various
Fruit shape Irregular glebulose-gongyloid Round to teardrop Round Round to oblong Round Round to pointed, slightly irregular
Fruit ripens February – April
winter 9months  



Ovary colour Orange-red then green Sometimes red then green       Rarely red then green
No. of seed in fruit (1)2-4
1-2(-6) 1-2(-4) 1-2 1-4 1-4
Seed size ±10mm ±9(6-1)mm 10-18mm 9-18m ±12(9-13)mm ±12 mm
Seed membrane colour colourless purplish red colourless colourless colourless colourless, rarely reddish
Seed radicle  



radicle produced by the germinating seed is very thin, about 1.5 mm thick   3 mm 3 mm 3 mm
Stem non-aerial non-aerial aerial to 450 mm with buttress roots when growing in swampy conditions non-aerial aerial, up to 3 m in mature specimens slightly aerial with age
Leaf length (mm) 600-1200 300-800 300-1200 350-900 300-600 400-900
Leaf width (mm) 30-50 25-50 30-90 25-60 35-70 25-70
Leaf median stripe Pronounced Moderate to weak Weak to none None None None
Leaf substance Stiff Stiff Soft Soft Soft Soft
Leaf texture Rough Slightly rough to smooth Smooth Smooth Smooth Smooth
Leaf margin Smooth Rough Smooth Smooth Smooth Smooth
Leaf apex Rounded point Indented Rounded Pointed Pointed Pointed
Leaf base Pigmented purple red Non-pigmented Non-pigmented Non-pigmented Pigmented red to non-pigmented Non-pigmented

*Explanation: minimum 1 seed, 2 to 4 on average, 7 maximum