Clivia mirabilis

The leaf of Clivia mirabilis (in the middle of the picture) shows a median white striation as compared to the pure green leaves of other Clivia species.


Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve near Nieuwoudtville, Northern Cape, South Africa.


Sandstone talus screes below the cliffs of the Oorlogskloof Canyon, at about 900 m.  Plants grow mainly in humus between cracks in sandstone talus of rock screes, either as solitary individuals or in small groups, in light woodland of Afromontane evergreen forests.  Associated species such as Podocarpus elongates, Olea europaea ssp africana, Cassine schinoides, etc. provide further shade to Clivia mirabilis.  Some plants also grow in full sun but these plants usually show signs of water stress with dried leaf tips.  Most plants are shaded by cliffs till mid-morning, after which they receive full sun.  The area where Clivia mirabilis endemic to experiences a semi-arid Mediterranean climate with a winter rainfall regime.

Distinguishing Features:

(1)  straight, actinomorphic pedicels;
(2) median white striation on the upper surface of the leaves;
(3) irregularly shaped glebulose-gongyloid berries; and
(4)  basal part of the leaves forming the leaf sheath is flushed deep carmine maroon (this feature is shared only occasionally with C. nobilis).

Adaptation to the Semi-Arid Climate:

(1)  The geographical distribution of C. mirabilis in Northern Cape, which is about 800 km apart from the range of the four currently recognized Clivia species, is characterized by winter rainfall and hot dry summer;
(2) the rapid autumn maturation of berries in about 5 months contrasting that of C. miniata and C. gardenii (usually take 12 months), and C. caulescens and C. nobilis (about 9 months) to coincide with the winter rainfall;
(3) primary roots develop into a swollen, white, succulent cylinder to absorb water for storage to survive the dry summer months;


C. mirabilis is a newly discovered species whose identity was only confirmed in February 2001.  As the natural habitat of this species now enjoys maximum protection and no population is known outside the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve, C. mirabilis remains extremely rare in cultivation. 

In cultivation, C. mirabilis enjoys a humus rich medium and a half-shady environment.  Taking into account its semi-arid habitat, the species would prefer a fairly dry condition during summer months. 


Bothalia 32,1: 1-7 (2002) Clivia mirabilis (Amaryllidaceae: Haemantheae) a new species from Northern Cape, South Africa, J.P. Rourke.

Dennis Tsang (Dec 28, 2003)
Hong Kong