Massonia

How are your gerbil-pollinated plants doing this winter? Ours is doing just fine. The flowers of this hedgehog lily, Massonia depressa, were unfazed by several nights down in the high teens here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden and has survived 5 previous winters as well. It is a bulbous plant native to South Africa where it is dormant through the hot dry summers and winter-growing and blooming. I first noticed its foliage when its neighbor Iris planifolia was blooming on December 12, 2023. Soon a marble sized bud appeared between the two leaves. And today I noticed that it had started blooming. The cup shaped flowers hold a yeasty smelling nectar that gerbils drink and in the process end up with their heads dusted with pollen which ends up being transferred to the next flower. Hedgehog lily has the specific epithet of “depressa” because its 4″ long leaves lay flat on the ground. It is in the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, one of the divisions of the Lily family, Liliaceae, when the lily family was sliced and diced. Its relatives in the asparagus family include Agave, Yucca, Aspidistra, Hosta, Scilla and so many more genera.

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