Eriospermum abyssinicum Baker
  • J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 15: 263 (1876) 

Notes: Distribution: Trop. & S. Africa

General Description

Plants (4-)11-62 cm. (see note), usually flowering before the leaves. Tuber depressed-globose, up to 4.2 cm. long, 4 cm. wide; skin dark brown, thick, rough and flaky; flesh tough, corky, white. Old leaf-sheaths up to 6 cm. long. Leaf solitary, erect; sheath exserted up to 13 cm., 1-2 mm. diameter, terete, straight or slightly coiled, purple at the base, becoming glaucous towards the blade; blade narrowly lanceolate to falcate, cuneate, acuminate, mucronate, 5.5-14(-19) cm. long, up to 1.7 cm. wide, glaucous green, coriaceous, with prominent parallel veins, margins thickened or involute. Peduncle 2.5-18(-40) cm. long, up to 3 mm. diameter, dark red towards the base, green above; peduncular bract rarely observed above ground; raceme 7-32 cm. long, up to 10 cm. wide, very lax to dense (see note), conical to corymbose, with 10-50 flowers; bracts triangular, 1-2 mm. long, membranous with a brown midnerve; lower pedicels 1.5-18 cm. long, upper often much shorter. Flowers 3-14 mm. across, campanulate to spreading or recurved. Tepals 3-10 mm. long, subequal, lemon to bright yellow with a red-streaked green midnerve. Filaments subequal, filiform to narrowly lanceolate, yellow, inner erect, 3-4 mm. long, outer more spreading, 2-3 mm. long; anthers small, ovoid. Ovary ovoid, pale green with some red stippling, 2-2.5 mm. long, 1-2 mm. wide; style short, 1-2.5 mm. long, yellow. Fruit turbinate, 6-10 mm. long, 5-7 mm. wide. Seeds ± 6 mm. long, 2 mm. wide, hairs up to 7 mm. long.

Tuber globose, 1–1 1/2 in. diam., crowned with copious fibres. Leaf lanceolate, not contemporary with the flowers, distinctly petiolate, subcoriaceous, glabrous, 5–6 in. long, 1/4– 1/2 in. broad at the middle, narrowed gradually to the apex and base. Peduncle wiry, 3–6 in. long. Raceme lax, 6–8 in. long; pedicels ascending, lower 2–3 in. long; bracts very minute. Perianth oblong, 1/4 in. long; segments linear-oblong, white, with a pale brown keel. Stamens unequal, rather shorter than the perianth; filaments flattened; anthers subglobose. Capsule 1/4 in. long, with obovate reflexing valves.

Tuber giving rise to an inflorescence about 1 ft. high towards the end of the dry season with long-pedicellate yellow flowers which, open in the morning or late afternoon; the erect leaf grows later, in rocky savanna.


in rocky savanna

HAB. Rocky soil in grassland or open woodland, often in damp areas; 150-2450(­-2750) m.


Togo Rep.: Aledzo, Sokode-Basari Kersting 310.

Kenya Moi’ s [Hoey's] Bridge, Mar. 1936, Mainwaring 20!;

Sen.: Tambacounda Berhaut 1658! Ouassadou Berhaut 2154!

Jur Jur Ghattas, Schweinfurth, 1924! ser. iii. 141! Seriba Kurshook Ali, Schweinfurth, 1724!

Tanzania 21 km. N. of Songea, by Lumecha Bridge, 3 Jan. 1956, Milne-Redhead & Taylor 8035!

Tanzania 91 km. Seronera to Klein's Camp, 6 Apr. 1961, Greenway & Myles Turner 9994!;

Tanzania Ruaha National Park, 1 km. E. of Msembe, 10 Dec. 1971, A. Bjørnstad 1138!;

Dah.: Pobéyon to Birni Chev. 23954! Kouandé Chev. 23998!

Kenya near Kapsaret [Kaposoret] Forest Reserve, 8 May 1951, G.R. Williams 171!;

Kenya S. Elgon, Mar. 1937, Tweedie 380!

U. Volta: Banankalidoro to Bama Chev. 937! Simona to Toro Chev. 978!

German East Africa Hannington!

Iv. C.: Bouna Reserve (Apr.) Aké Assi 8666!

Uganda Arua, Mar. 1938, Hazel 454!;

Guin.: Samballo Adam 14837!

N. Nig.: Nupe Barter 1538! Anara F.R. Zaria (May) Keay FHI 25773! Vom Dent Young 255! Yola (fr. May) Dalz. 233! Mambila Plateau, 4, 900 ft. (bud Jan.) Hepper 2824!

Nyasaland Shire Highlands, Buchanan, 196! Zomba, 2500–3500 ft., Whyte! Mount Mlanje, Scott-Elliot, 8638!

Uganda Naam, Apr. 1943, Purseglove 1519!;

Gallabat banks of the River Gendua, Schweinfurth, 26!

Uganda near Masindi, 16 Mar. 1907, Bagshawe 1543!

Ghana: Damongo Scarp (Mar.) Morton GC 8699! Tamale to Yendi (Mar.) Adams 3866! Tumu (May) Morton A3329!


in J.L.S. 15: 263 (1876) & in F.T.A. 7: 471 (1898); Bullock et al. in K.B. 1933: 98 (1933); Polhill in Journ. E. Afr. Nat. Hist. Soc. 24: 19 (1962); F.W.T.A., ed. 2, 3: 94, fig. 350 (1968); Moriarty, Wild Fl. Malawi: 29, t. 15/1 (1975); Vollesen in Opera Bot. 59: 89 (1980); Champl. & Maquet in Fl. Rwanda 4: 48 (1987); U.K.W.F., ed. 2: 313, t. 142 (1994); P.L. Perry in Contr. Bolus Herb. 17: 80 (1994).

in J. Linn. Soc. 15: 263 (1876); F.T.A. 7: 471; Troupin in Expl. Parc Nat. Garamba 4: 196; Morton, Lilies & Orch. t. 8.

in Journ. Linn. Soc. xv. 263.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa East Tropical Africa Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Northeast Tropical Africa Chad
  • Ethiopia
  • Sudan
  • South Tropical Africa Angola
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Southern Africa Botswana
  • Cape Provinces
  • Free State
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Namibia
  • Northern Provinces
  • Swaziland
  • West Tropical Africa Benin
  • Burkina
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Ivory Coast
  • Mali
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Togo
  • West-Central Tropical Africa Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Rwanda
  • Zaire


  • 1 Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006). Flore Analytique du Bénin: 1-1034. Backhuys Publishers.
  • 2 Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.: i-vi, 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • 3 Govaerts, R. (2001). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS E-F: 1-50919.
  • 4 Christopher Whitehouse, B.A. (1996) Eriosphermaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa 0 (0)
  • 5 Hepper, F.N. (ed.) (1968). Flora of West Tropical Africa , ed. 2, 3(1): 1-276.

 Information From

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa. Published on the Internet;
Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa. Published on the Internet;
Flora of Tropical Africa
Flora of Tropical Africa. Published on the Internet;
WCS higher taxonomy
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World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
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