8 responses to “Hesperantha coccinea”

  1. Patrick Collins

    In the north of the UK these flower in October/November and are a spectacular and dependable, bright and long-lasting ornament for a time of year when there is little else like them.

    Hesperantha is said to mean “flower of the evening”, though it could mean “flower of the evening star”, “flower of the west” or “flower of the unidentified plant mentioned by Pliny who only wrote that it is so-called because it is fragrant at night and whose name was given to the genus of the evening-scented dame’s violet (Hesperis matronalis of the cabbage family) by Linnaeus “. I would not like to make an assumption about which it is without a primary source and the first description of the genus is not available online. I think the last one is most likely to be correct but I doubt it will catch on as a common name.

    Though Hesperantha coccinea is day-flowering and scentless, the first-described species of Hesperantha have flowers that open in the evening with a powerful cinnamon or clove fragrance.

    Flies with a long proboscis also pollinate Hesperantha coccinea, apparently including the genus Prosoeca. While not as pretty as the Aeropetes butterflies the flies are interesting because they hover while feeding like a hummingbird hawkmoth (or, indeed, a hummingbird).

    Oops, I got carried away with plant names, again.

    1. Patrick Collins

      An interesting article with photos of this variable genus:

      http://pza.sanbi.org/sites/default/files/info_library/hesperantha.pdf

      Videos of the long-proboscis fly Prosoeca pollinating flowers, though not on Hesperantha.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diPC6Zh8YEE

      https://vimeo.com/190381072

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgoV0i1iBNA

      Pliny’s brief mention of the evening-scented Hesperis flower.
      The translator mentions a suggestion that it is the plant with the wonderful English names “sad stock” or “sad gilliflower”.

      http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0137:book=21:chapter=18&highlight=night

    2. Sue Frisch

      What is the name of the fragrant, evening-flowering species?

      1. Patrick Collins

        I have given a link to a little article about some of them, but because it contains links my second comment is awaiting moderation probably for the whole weekend.

        The first description of the genus had six species, all fragrant; Hesperantha cinnamomea (now called Hesperantha spicata), Hesperantha falcata,
        Hesperantha paludosa (not recognised by The Plant List and with minimal information on Tropicos), Hesperantha pilosa, Hesperantha radiata and Hesperantha virginea (now called Hesperantha bachmannii). Hesperantha now has 84 accepted species on the Plant List. Another famously fragrant one is Hesperantha cucullata.

        If you search for Hesperantha on the Pacific Bulb Society website (three “w”s then take out the spaces, add on an org) you will find many species described. The white, evening-flowering ones are the scented ones apart from one that appears to mimic an orchid scent that flowers in the afternoon – Hesperantha erecta.

        If you look on the Plantzafrica site for Hesperantha you will find the article I linked, “Hesperantha, the evening flower”. The only description of a fragrant species on the rest of the site is for a tiny Critically Rare one, Hesperantha sufflava. Though it has recovered from being Extinct – so obviously a little fighter.

  2. Bodil Bruus

    Can yhey be grown ss house plants?

    1. Patrick Collins

      If you have the space and intense light they need. They grow 50 – 60cm tall and prefer full sun.

  3. Susanne

    the important question is: are they hardy in zone 6 ? lol

  4. Danae Yurgel

    Those so-bright colors are so comforting on a gray and rainy day! Thank you!

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