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Genus Wurmbea Family Colchicaceae

Description: Perennial glabrous herbs with corm, dioecious, polygamous or all flowers bisexual; stem or scape unbranched.

Leaves basal or cauline, 1–3, sheathing at base.

Inflorescence a spike or solitary flower; bracts absent. Flowers bisexual or unisexual; male and female flowers in dioecious species dissimilar; male flowers and inflorescences similar to bisexual ones in polygamous species. Tepals usually 6, in 1 whorl, similar, fused towards base, persistent; with 1 or 2 sub-basal nectaries. Stamens 6; anthers dorsifixed or rarely almost basifixed, versatile, dehiscing by longitudinal slits, extrorse. Ovary superior, 3-locular [or 4-locular when tepals 7 or 8]; ovules many per loculus; placentation axile; styles short, free [or fused towards base].

Fruit a capsule, loculicidal or both loculicidal and septicidal; seeds globose, brown.

Photo Lotte von Richter

Photo Lotte von Richter


Distribution and occurrence: World: 40 species, Australia & Africa. Australia: 19 species (endemic), all States.

The nectaries sometimes become paler with age, so that they are similar in colour to the tepals.

Text by G. J. Harden
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Flower usually solitary, occasionally 2; anthers yellow; tepals white with 2 white nectariesWurmbea uniflora
Flowers usually 2–15, rarely flowers solitary; anthers pink or purple or brown; tepals white or greenish or yellowish, with 1 pink, purple, greenish, white or pale purple nectary or with 2 purple, greenish, pink or very faintly purple nectaries2
2Tepals with 2 nectaries, comprising distinct structures separated by a broad gap and with inner margins thickened; nectaries pink, sometimes pale or fading with ageWurmbea biglandulosa
Tepals usually with 1 nectary or with apparently 2 nectaries comprising a transverse band with a relatively narrow gap at midline of tepal; nectaries purple, faintly purple, white or greenish
                       Back to 1
3Tepals yellowish green; nectary greenish brownWurmbea citrina
Tepals white, occasionally with purplish markings; nectary purple to white
                       Back to 2
4Nectaries dark purple or greenishWurmbea dioica
Nectaries white or very faintly purple
                       Back to 3
Wurmbea latifolia

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