Dierama erectum

This rainy-day photograph is from last October, taken here at UBC Botanical Garden. Dierama erectum doesn’t seem to have a vernacular name, though I suppose upright fairybells or upright wandflower would work. This photograph isn’t a good example of the upright spikes of flowers that help distinguish it from its pendulous-flowered counterparts because of the mass of the water on the blossoms.

The name and description for this species were only scientifically published in 1988, even though a specimen was collected at least as early as 1977. In the past few decades, the species has become popular in cultivation. Its fate as a wild species is much less certain. Recent conservation assessments of this South African endemic species have determined it is endangered, with the justification for that status as “Known from a few subpopulations at two locations, in a very small area between Vryheid, Ngome and Paulpietersburg, northern KwaZulu-Natal (EOO 1800 km²). Most subpopulations remain in grassland fragments owned by a commercial forestry company and are all declining due to overgrazing. There may be a few other undiscovered locations on privately owned land, but probably not more than five” (EOO means extent of occurrence).

Research being done at the University of KwaZulu-Natal by Motselisi Jane Koetle has helped to establish a micropropagation protocol for the species: In vitro propagation of Dierama erectum. Being able to generate 15137 plants from one explant in a year would significantly bolster the number of individuals. However, since micropropagation only produces clones, it is but one element of a successful species restoration strategy, as it is ideal to preserve as much genetic diversity of the species as possible (see disease and monoculture).

Dierama erectum

One response to “Dierama erectum”

  1. Equisetum

    What a lovely picture — I hope your lens survived! I got awful fungus on the sensor of one of my cameras, not having had the sense to take the lens off and let everything dry out after becoming entranced with raindrops on a tangelo in my yard.
    And what a sad story. It makes me thankful I live where there’s a CNPS — California Native Plant Society — whose members have done so much for habitat preservation (and have rediscovered many lost species). All because Dr. Howard McMinn realized that the little pocket in the East Bay Hills that’s now Tilden Botanic Garden had a climate and terrain that would grow plants from every county in the state (and does it ever!). The Friends of Tilden Botanic Garden evolved into CNPS and now there are chapters all over the state. I wish I could hope that there could be a similar evolution in South Africa — home to so many spectacular and unique species. It’s amazing what pops up in dryland “pastures” that have been grazed to the ground for decades, if only…
    I have to laugh at “common” names sometimes — What could be easier to say than “Dierama,” and what sillier than “Angel’s Fishing Rod.”

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