Like its close relative, the previously-featured Brunsvigia josephinae, Brunsvigia orientalis is also known as candelabra lily. Other common names for it include: red candelabra flower, king candelabra, chandelier lily, chandelier plant, and sore-eye flower.
In Afrikaans, common names include ajuinbol, koningskandelaarblom, kandelaarblom, kandelaarlelie, lantanter, Maartblom, marsblom, perdespookbossie, rolbossie, seeroogblom, and tanteletant. (all common names via the PlantzAfrica entry on Brunsvigia orientalis). One of these latter common names, perdespookbossie, is explained on the Fernkloof Nature Reserve’s page for Brunsvigia orientalis: “probably derived from horses becoming ‘spooked’ or frightened by the tumbling dried umbels”.
Although you can perhaps judge the size of this inflorescence by what is surrounding it, it is always good to go to the literature. In the 1897 Flora Capensis, J.G. Baker describes each pedicel (the stalks that support each individual flower) as measuring 4-6 inches (10-15cm) and the flowers being 2-2.5 in. long, so we can conclude the entire inflorescence is as large as 17 inches in diameter (43 cm). Baker goes on to describe the size of the scape (“8–12 in. long, as thick as a man’s finger”), and my favourite, the size of the bulb on this geophyte: “the size of a child’s head”. Baker’s description (note: this was when this species was considered to be Brunsvigia gigantea), along with illustrations and scans of pressed specimens, is available via JSTOR’s Global Plants: Brunsvigia orientalis.
The Pacific Bulb Society’s Wiki entry for Brunsvigia orientalis explains the habitat requirements: “found on sandy flats along the coast, riverbeds or inland sand plumes in predominantly low altitude winter rainfall areas”. This resource also has additional images.
In other Botany Photo of the Day news, some of you may recall the exceptional photos of Jacaranda decurrens shared with us by Dr. Ruy J.V. Alves. If there is any good news to be had, it is that the herbarium of the Brazil National Museum, curated by Dr. Alves, did not burn down with the rest of the museum and its artifacts a few days ago. In 2007, the herbarium was moved to a nearby building.