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Southern African Bulb Group

About the Group

The objective of the Southern African Bulb Group is to further the understanding of the cultivation of Southern African bulbs, where `bulbs' is used in the broad sense to encompass bulb-, corm- and tuber- possessing Southern African plants, including `dicots' such as Oxalis.

The Group was initiated by an informal group of enthusiasts including Stefan Rau and Terry Smale on April 4th 2004, to provide a forum for the exchange of information between members about these plants and their cultivation. This is by means of meetings in meeting halls and members' gardens, by distribution of a newsletter electronically or by conventional mail, by a web site and an online forum. In late summer we run a Seed and Bulb Exchange to allow members to share their plants and increase their collections.

The SABG is based in the UK and is for anyone interested in growing the beautiful and diverse bulbous plants of South Africa and neighbouring countries. You do not need to be an expert (I'm not!) or live in the UK, but our meetings have all been in England so far.

We have been delighted to be able to support the South African National Biodiversity Institute's conservation project for the Cape Lowlands Renosterveld, one of the most threatened habitats in the Cape Floristic Region. More information can be found on the SANBI BGIS CLR project web site, which explains: “The most spectacular feature of Renosterveld is its phenomenal richness in bulb species and other geophytes (e.g. belonging to the Iridaceae, Amaryllidaceae, Hyacinthaceae plant families). These plants have underground storage organs and are often characterised by showy flowers, aimed at attracting pollinators such as birds or insects, monkey beetles and long-tongued flies. The Iridaceae is one family that is very well represented in the Lowlands: of the approximately 353 endemic and rare species known to occur in the Lowlands, almost a quarter belong to the Iridaceae. Of these, around 160 are listed as rare or threatened plants and nearly 250 are endemic, meaning that they are restricted to Renosterveld vegetation ad cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. They flower mostly in spring and are known to persist in even very small pieces of remnant natural habitat.”

Many members also grow other non-hardy bulbs from other parts of the world, and some are members of the Nerine & Amaryllid Society (NAAS).

Our Chairman, Bill Squires, has been approved by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens for the custodianship of the National Collection of Lachenalia. (Two for the price of one, one might say, as this genus is now considered to include the genus Polyxena, despite their superficially different appearance.)

Further information

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This page was designed and prepared by Richard White and last edited on 28th March 2015.