082 775 1224 / kerryn@cjmgrowers.co.za

Trees, Shrubs, Aloes, Grasses and Ground Covers.

Please call us on our mobile number 082 775 1224 as the Telkom number is out of order.

Ammocharis coranica

Syn. Amaryllis coranica / Ammocharis coccinea / Ammocharis taveliana / Brunsvigia coranica / Crinum coccineum / Palinetes coranica

  • Ammocharis

  • Tumbleweed

  • Bible flower

  • Berg Lily

  • Karanna Lily

  • Karroo Lily

  • Sore-eye flower

  • Sand Crinum

  • Ground Lily 

  • Gifbol (A)

  • Seeroogblom (A)

  • Berglelie (A)

  • Knopieskop (A)

  • Boka (SS)

  • Incukudwane (Z)

  • Umbhodiya (Z)


  • This stunning member of the Amaryllis family is a native of the barren Karroo landscape, but has adapted to and spread across most of the republic; it is also currently one of the most renowned in its genus across the horticultural world. It produces, from its heavily tunicated underground bulb, several horizontally spreading, broadly ligulated bluish-green leaves and a salient flowerhead comprising of manifold stunning deeply flushed rosy-pink to glossy scarlet cannular flowers. This flowerhead eventually desiccates and breaks away, while preserving its shape, only to be rolled around by the wind, distributing its precious seed cargo far and wide, and also giving rise to the common name Tumbleweed. The genus name Ammocharis stems from an amalgamation of the ancient words for sand, “ammo”, and delight, “charis” and the specific name refers to the Koranna area (old name for the northern province) and the San people who lived there. Of the 7 known Ammocharis species, 3 occur naturally in our country.


  • Amaryllidaceae (The Amaryllis family)


  • These stunning bulbs are endemic to the arid Karoo area but have adapted quite well to a wide variety of habitats and are fairly widespread in their distribution.

  • They are however most abundant in summer rainfall areas of the country, and prefer to grow in flat, exposed, calid and dry areas where there are often periods of intense drought.

  • The Karroo Lily is often found in very silty or alluvial soils but tolerates a wide range, including clayish, and is most common in open grasslands, rocky ridges, desert-like areas and seasonally wet depressions.

  • Found in all 9 provinces, extending to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and further into the eastern parts of Africa.


  • Deciduous, but often remains evergreen in cultivation.

  • It will often continue growing until the weather is sufficiently cold enough to induce dormancy.

  • It has a bulky, ovate underground bulb (150 – 300 mm diam.), that is enclosed in several layers of brown, firm, slightly hardened chartaceous tunics.

  • The bulb also sends forth stout, fleshy roots.

  • The leaves are 2-ranked, arranged in a collimate whorl or basal rosette and typically lie prostrate on the ground; they are rarely upright.

  • Each bulb produces 8 – 14, grey to blue-green, smooth and hairless leaves (300 – 600 x 25 – 40 mm), that have a broadly ligulate or falcate shape and older leaves are often blunt-tipped.

  • This truncation is marked by the point where the plant went dormant in the preceding growing season.

  • The leaf margins are often very finely serrated.


  • Each plant typically sends up one (established plants may have up to 3), slightly flattened, robust, recumbent peduncle (150 – 300 mm), upon which rests a cluster (180 – 250 mm diam.) of tubular flowers, each supported by a slightly flaring or uprightly held stalk (20 – 30 mm).

  • The flowers are very beautiful, in shades glossy, deep pink and crimson.

  • The colour tends to darken as the flower ages.

  • The flower tube is 10 – 15 mm long and the petals progressively curve outwards and downwards.

  • The anthers are prominently arched.

  • The flowers emit a strong, lovely scent.

  • October – February, but flowering can be sporadic, depending on rains, and the plants may not produce flowers every year.


  • The fruits are corpulent, membranous capsules that ultimately split open to release the seeds.


  • 150 – 300 mm.


  • 200 – 450 mm.


  • These bulbs contain several alkaloids, many of them toxic, and there are not a great many medicinal uses attributed to them.

  • They are however considered a valuable means of protecting from and curing local peoples of mental aberrations and other complications believed to be induced by sorcery.

  • Traditional, extracts of different parts have been used to heal boils, wounds and blisters on the skin.


  • The foliage and blooms of this part, and quite possibly the bulb, contain toxic substances and in the past indigenous peoples have used extracts of this plant as an arrow poison.

  • The bulb is pounded, and a durable adhesive is made from the pulp that is used to mend cracked clay pots.


  • Parts of this plant are highly toxic, and care should be taken when handling. Ingestion of any of the parts is not recommended.

  • The bulb and inner leaf parts are susceptible to attacks from many garden pests and the plant needs to be inspected often.

  • Bulbs that have been moved or disturbed usually take a long time, up to 2 years, to re-established themselves and start producing flowers.

  • Disturb them as little as possible.


  • The flowers will attract bees, butterflies and other insects during the day and at night, when their scent is the most pungent, they lure moths, which act as pollinators.


  • These hardy bulbs are wonderfully water-wise and are an excellent addition to rockeries and succulent gardens.

  • They are also well suited to xeriscaping and can tolerate a wide range of soils; they are rather fond of porous, sandy mediums.

  • Plant them in a difficult, hot, sandy and dry part of the garden, where they will add vibrancy and interest.

  • Their ease of cultivation makes them suitable for even the novice bulb-gardener.

  • The Karroo Lily makes an excellent pot plant and is easy to care for, requiring almost no special care.

  • When in flower, it makes a simply stunning focal point.

  • If kept sufficiently dry, they can withstand a modest amount of frost and they will also not be negatively affected by very high temperatures.

  • Perfect for large and small gardens; they add beauty to even the dreariest of landscape scenes.

  • It can also be planted in a raised flower bed.


  • A resilient bulb, exceptionally tolerant of periods of drought and immense heat.

  • These bulbs can withstand wetter conditions but need very good drainage.

  • They are able to withstand a fair amount of frost (up to -3 °C) but need to be kept dry during cold weather.

Growth Rate

  • A very slow grower.

  • If planted from seed, it may take up to 8 years to start producing flowers.


  • Prefers a position n full sun.

Soil & Water

  • In their natural environment, they grow, even flourish, in very sandy and nutrient-deficient soils.

  • In a garden setting, or even in pots, they will grow well in sandy, loamy or slightly clay, deep and heavy soils, but extra care should be taken to ensure the soil has very good drainage.

  • They prefer a slightly acidic ph.

  • Added compost or fertiliser will be gladly accepted, but only add once per growing season as they dislike over-feeding.

  • An organic compost/fertiliser or bone-meal should be used.

  • As the rainfall in their natural setting is often quite low, they do not require a lot of water, and even less to none during their dormant phase.

  • During the warmer months, a good drenching once to twice per week should be sufficient.

  • Do not water in winter.

  • These bulbs are known to take full advantage of available moisture and often break their dormancy as soon as water is presented.


  • Propagation is mostly done from seed.

  • Offsets are difficult to harvest and also rarely form.

  • The seeds, which tend to germinate quite rapidly, but lose viability quickly, should be sown as soon as they have been harvested and cleaned.

  • Sow the seeds into a porous mixture of sand/grit and compost (2:1).

  • Place the seedling containers in a temperate and brightly lit area and mist often but take care to not let the soil become waterlogged.

  • The seeds, upon germination, first create a small radicle root, and thereafter a dainty leaf.

  • The young bulbs will need to be kept, undisturbed, in their containers for at least a full year before they can be transplanted.

  • Ultimately, these bulbs can grow rather bulky and require free root-run before blooming.

This species is one of the easier species to grow. Seeds germinate easily in cultivation. A choice mix is something well drained with good organic matter (~1:1).

Propagation: By seed or rarely by division of bulbs. Offsets are rather slow to form (if ever), and are best separated from the mother bulb straight after flowering, just as the new leaves begin to develop. Seeds form readily and should be harvested and sown as soon as they can be easily removed from the bright orange, fleshy berries. Seeds may take up to two months before the first leaf appears above ground, and a further four to five years to flower for the first time.

Seeds germinate easily in cultivation. A choice mix is something well drained with good organic matter (~1:1). Bulbs can grow rather large and will need free root-run before blooming. While in leaf, it responds well to fertilizers and will continue growing until the weather is cool enough for it to enter dormancy. After a dry winter dormancy, it only takes 3 days after watering to produce green growths of new leaves! When it dries out, it will go back into dormancy and await the next watering.

Seed germinates easily; bulbs can be transplanted, takes a year or two to re-establish the roots upon transplantation

Seeds usually germinate readily and are pressed into a sandy medium and raised in pots for the first year or so. I am currently trailing sowing straight in to the ground and I am finding this method excellent! Most of the seeds have germinated well. This method will alleviate the need to handle the seedlings from pots to garden bed. 


t; break open to collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

There is no pre-treatment of the seeds required. 

The seeds are sown in mineral-based cat litter (no clumping litter) or perlite (germ-free) in plastic-pots. Please sow the seeds on the mineral soil. Bigger seeds need to be covered with the mineral soil, small seeds should remain on the surface. 

Then put the plastic pot in a ziplock bag – with a pot size of 6 cm , a ziplock bag of size 12 x 17 cm is recommended . Fill in the ziplock bag as much tap water with a few drops of universal fertilizer, so that after the absorption of the substrate a few mm of water remain on the bottom. Then close the ziplock bag – Ready! 

More watering is not required because no moisture evaporates through the ziplock bag . 

Location: on the windowsill or in a small greenhouse in partial shade, daytime temperatures at about 73-83 F, somewhat lower at night at 68-72 F. The resulting micro-climate provides ideal conditions for germination.

After flowering, large numbers of fleshy seeds are produced in membranous capsules which eventually split when the seeds mature, depositing then around the plant.

Leave a reply



082 775 1224


© CJM Growers 2017 all rights reserved