Urginea undulata

Thank you to Lindsay for today’s write-up and to “cloudy” of the UBC Botanical Garden forums for taking these photographs in Israel in this posting on the UBC Botanical Garden Botany Photo of the Day Submissions forum. Lindsay writes:

You might not guess from its delicate appearance but Urginea undulata has earned a reputation as one tough geophyte. Native to the Negev Desert in Israel as well as parts of North Africa, this bulb is active twice throughout the year. Flowering, as shown in today’s photographs, corresponds to the onset of the rainy season. This is quickly followed by a dormant period that is eventually broken with the production of stunning foliage in February. The bulb then again goes dormant throughout the following dry summer season.

Throughout its dry season dormancy, Urginea undulata is able to survive with very little, if any, water and sustain extreme ground temperatures because of a protective layer of dead tissues that keep it from drying out or overheating. The bulbs are a food source for animals; not only will the bulbs tolerate disturbance, but the remaining bulbs in the colony actually benefit from frequent ‘cultivation’ of the soil.

Urginea undulata
Urginea undulata

13 responses to “Urginea undulata”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    Fascinating adaptation.

  2. Sterling Keeley

    This looks to be Liliaceae rather than Amaryllidace. Lilies have supeior ovaries and often racemose inflorescences. Amaryllidaceae, on the other hand, has an inferior ovary and typically has scapose umbels subtended by membranous bracts. This species may be an exception, of course, as there are many plants that do not follow the “rules.”

  3. Anni

    Urginea sp should be a Liliaceae indeed…
    Beautiful pictures

  4. David Hollombe

    Asparagaceae/Scilloideae/Urgineeae per Angiosperm Phylogeny Website

  5. Claire B (Saskatoon)

    The plant kingdom is just plain flat-out amazing!

  6. Sue in Bremerton

    What a great species. The flowers don’t look as though they belong to the leaves. And I LOVED the leaves. Reminds me of frosting leaves, made with a pastry tube. Such a cool plant… evolved to survive one thing at a time. Happy to see such a sturdy little survivor.

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    David Hollombe is correct. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III classification system came out a couple weeks ago, and I incorrectly posted this as Amaryllidaceae due to my own misinterpretation of one of the summary papers.
    Thank you for all the comments!
    See: Chase, M. et al. 2009. A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161(2): 132-136. 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    a really interesting plant daniel and this
    i had an article come up on my home page
    plants can recognize rivals and fight
    canadians reserchers found the sea rocket can recgonize its siblings the article
    is truly interesting and will be published
    your comments would really be helpful
    communicativeand integrative biology

  9. annie Morgan

    And I truly enjoy seeing the closeup of the flowers/plant, PLUS the habitat which shows the relative size. Two great photos, and all those posts are so informative!!

  10. Eric in SF

    Spectacular foliage and it’s absolutely incredible how closely it resembles the foliage to the California native Chlorogalum pomeridianum:
    And it’s not just the foliage! They both have similar flower and inflorescence morphology:

  11. Meghan

    I second Eric’s comment – I can’t believe these two plants are not in the same genus (Chlorogalum)!

  12. Margaret-Rae Davis

    It is so nice to see this lovely delicate plant. Then I read how very hardy it has to be to go through a dormant season to flowere again.
    The photos and the imformation are just great. I love to learn about different plants.
    Thank you,

  13. De Kemist

    Amazing picture,amazing plant.i’ve been researching plants that live in arid conditions,this is certainly a start-off point.Thanks

Leave a Reply