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The Woody Iridaceae

Nivenia, Klattia & Witsenia, systematics, biology & evolution

Peter Goldblatt

illustrated by Fay Anderson & Margo Branch



9.3×6.3in • 23.5×16cm

139 pages

watercolor & line illustrations, tables, maps

index included

ISBNs: 0881922331 • 9780881922332

Timber Press • 1993

Shrubby Iridaceae?  Not possible you may think!  Like nearly all the monocots, species of the Iridaceae family are all herbs that die down each year at the end of their growing season, only to sprout again at the beginning of their next groth cycle.  Well, not quite - a few species of Iridaceae are evergreen shrubs with woody stems that remain permanently above the ground.  There are just three genera in the family that have this habit: Nivenia, Klattia, and Wistenia.  All three are restricted to southern Africa, where they occur in the western and southern Cape.

. . . collective called the shrubby Iridaceae, include just 12 or 13 species out of a total of 1600 species in the family, a small fraction even of the 900 or so species of Iridaceae that occur in southern Africa.  Small wonder, then, that they are looked upon by scientists as particularly interesting oddities.

Peter Goldblatt, Veld & Flora, Dec 1992

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