Sandersonia (Christmas Bells; Chinese Lantern Lily)
Sandersonia is a genus in the family Colchicaceae, with a single species – Sandersonia aurantiaca.
This plant has lance-shaped leaves and delicate lantern-like flowers borne on long stalks. It grows up to 90 cm (3 ft) tall and usually has climbing habit. The flowers are orange or yellow and are prized as cut flowers because they last long.
The genus was named after the Scottish journalist and amateur botanist John Sanderson, who discovered the plant in 1851 in South Africa.
The plant is native to South Africa and will bloom on Christmas there, hence the common name “Christmas Bells”.
The common name “Chinese Lantern Lily” is in reference to the lantern-like flowers.
Sandersonia symbolizes longevity.
Interesting facts about Sandersonia:
The plant appears to be most closely related to genera Gloriosa and Littonia.
Unlike the closely related genera, its leaves do not usually have tendrils at their tips.
Benefits and Uses
The leaves of the plant have been traditionally used by Zulu people as an aphrodisiac.
These lovely flowers are good long-lasting cut flowers, with a proven vase life of 2 to 3 weeks.
Sandersonia aurantiaca is native to South Africa, but is cultivated all over the world for the cut-flower market. In the mid 90s, it was New Zealand’s most second-most important export cut flower. Due to its flowers lasting up to 2 or 3 weeks in a vase, Sandersonia aurantiaca is used in Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.
The flowers are orange or yellow.
This plant grows up to 90 cm (3 ft) in height.
Sandersonia aurantiaca prefers sandy or loamy soil that is moist, well drained and slightly acidic.