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Haemanthus

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Haemanthus is a Southern African genus of Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae, with some 22 known species, endemic to South Africa, Namibia and the kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland. About 15 species occur in the winter rainfall region of Namaqualan

Haemanthus is a Southern African genus of Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae, with some 22 known species, endemic to South Africa, Namibia and the kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland. About 15 species occur in the winter rainfall region of Namaqualand and the Western Cape, the remainder being found in the summer rainfall region, with one species Haemanthus albiflos occurring in both regions.

Most of the species have brush-like flowerheads enclosed in four or more membranous to fleshy spathe bracts which usually match the flower colour and, like sepals, protect the flowerheads from damage and desiccation. The flowers produce abundant nectar and pollen and a faint smell unattractive to humans. Fruits are mostly globose and when ripe, range through bright red, to pink, orange and white, and are usually aromatic. Three of the species, H. albiflos , H. deformis and H. pauculifolius are evergreen; these three species have bulbs that are only partly buried, the exposed section often turning bright green. The winter rainfall region's bulbs on the other hand are mostly from arid habitats and are found fairly deep below the surface, usually flowering before producing leaves. The genus produces relatively large bulbs that act as food and water storage organs, and consist of fleshy leafbases or tunics that may be arranged in two obvious ranks - termed a distichous arrangement. The morphology of the bulbs is useful in taxonomy and identification.

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