Nerine humilis (nerine)
Nerine humilis is a low-growing, pink-flowered bulb, found on rocky slopes in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa, often flowering in huge numbers after veld fires.
About this species
Nerine humilis is a pink-flowered bulb from South Africa, which is easy to grow and flowers freely. The petals are particularly frilly. It is a very variable species in both size and growth habit. The specific epithet humilis (from the Latin for short/ low/ humble) relates to its low-growing habit.
Geography & Distribution
Native to South Africa, where it occurs along the south and west coasts of Western Cape from near Clanwilliam, to the Eastern Cape in the Baviaanskloof. Being from the winter rainfall region of South Africa, Nerine humilis is adapted to warm, dry summers (November to March in the Southern Hemisphere) when the plants remain dormant in the wild. The active growing season in the wild is from April to November.
Nerine humilis is a bulb up to 6 cm across, with flat, strap-shaped leaves. Each bulb bears 3–8 leaves up to 30 cm long and 1.7 cm wide. The leaves are green or glaucous and are usually well-developed at the time of flowering. Each bulb can produce 1–3 flowering stems, 10–40 cm tall. Each flowering stem bears 1–12 flowers in a flat umbel, each with the six perianth segments (sepals/petals) spreading upwards, wavy-edged, deep to pale pink, 3–5 cm long and 3–7 mm wide. The six stamens curve downwards. The single style is three-lobed at the apex when mature. The fleshy seeds are 4 mm across.
Threats & Conservation
Nerine humilis has a relatively wide distribution in South Africa and is not threatened. It is considered to be of Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Nerine humilis is widely cultivated as an ornamental. It is valued as an autumn-flowering bulb in the Northern Hemisphere (though it flowers from April to June in South Africa, where it is native).
Nerine humilis bulbs should be grown in sandy soil, with some acid humus. It performs best when planted in a large pot and left undisturbed until the bulbs become overcrowded. It should be planted with the neck of the bulb protruding above the soil. It should be protected from frost in the winter, and kept on the dry side, particularly in summer when the bulbs are dormant.
This species at Kew
Nerine humilis can be seen in the Davies Alpine House at Kew during the autumn.
Pressed and dried specimens of other species of Nerine are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these, including images, can be seen on-line in the Herbarium Catalogue.
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