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(Syn. Galtonia saundersiae)
Giant (White) Chincherinchee
Reuse Tjienkerientjee (A)
Transvaalse Tjienkerientjee (A)
An impressive, stately epigeal bulb, with a vigorously gregarious growth habit and hardy nature. Each bulb produces only a few, dusky green, broadly ribbon-shaped basal leaves. From this basilar rosette arises a graceful, portly vertical flower stem that supports a curious, somewhat pyramidal flower cluster consisting of numerous starry, ivory-coloured flowers with pronounced black, beady ovaries. These delicately beautiful blooms are each joined to the main flowerhead by dainty, thinly fleshy stalks. The unusual common name, which can be quite a tongue-twister, is believed to refer to, and stem from, the sound made by the robust, glossy flower stems as they are scraped and rubbed together by the wind.
Hyacinthaceae (The Hyacinth family) -formerly placed in the Liliaceae family)
Colonies of this bulb are often very localised and are most prevalent on, and seem to favour, rocky terrains, clearings and valleys, as well as exposed grassland areas.
They can be found growing on the mountain ranges of the Natal province, Mpumalanga, Swaziland and in the eastern parts of Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West.
Foliage & Bulb
The bulb (400 – 600 mm diameter), give rise to a somewhat vertical yet lax rosette of dark-green, soft textured, glabrous, lance-like leaves (450 – 750 x 50 – 70 mm) with shiny upper surfaces.
Each plant bears a firm, upright flower stem (800 -1200 mm) that supports a conical, flat-topped inflorescence.
The stems tend to increase in length as the plant matures.
Each dense raceme (flowerhead) can bear up to 30 small (10 – 25 mm diameter), pure-white to cream coloured, somewhat cup-shaped, starry flowers, each with a prominent dark, rich green to black central ovary.
The stamens are conspicuously thickened and somewhat flattened towards the base.
Each individual flower is attached at an equal distance to the raceme by a semi-vertical, spreading stalk (25 – 40 mm).
December – April.
300 – 1500 mm.
50 – 100 mm.
All parts of this bulb are highly toxic when ingested and may also cause extreme skin irrational when handled.
There are numerous reports of livestock dying as a result of eating from this plant.
Keep away from children, pets and uninformed persons.
The flowers last for a long time and lure a vast array of insect and butterfly life to the garden.
The insects that flock to the flowers may attract certain smaller insectivorous bird species.
The flowers are rich in pollen and provide valuable food for honeybees.
These bulbs make excellent garden subject as they are very easy to care for, requiring little to no special attention in order to produce a vast number of flowers, are highly frost hardy and drought tolerant, and can grow in poor and rocky soils.
They grow very well in areas with wet summers and cold, dry winters.
Perfect for a rockery or areas covered with gravel.
They are also highly adaptable if given enough time to become settled.
When planted in mass (they do form dense clumps quite rapidly in their natural environment), they make for a spectacular and long-lasting floral display.
Suited as an annual.
As they tend to form densely interlocking colonies, and can do this relatively quickly, they can be used for soil binding and erosion control in disturbed, nutrient poor, loose soils.
Flowering will be continuous for at least a month.
Good container specimens.
The Giant Chincherinchee is also very popular as a very long-lasting cut flower, perfect for the vase or in floral decorations.
Their natural habitat is often very mountainous and rocky, with rather nutrient deficient soils, so they will be able to grow in very poor and sandy or rocky soils without hassle.
They are able to withstand severe and long-lasting cold and frosts as they go completely dormant in winter.
No protection is required.
O. saundersiae has a relatively high drought tolerance as it has the ability to store moisture in its underground bulb.
Moderate to fast.
Optimum development and flowering can only be achieved in a sunny to slightly shady area.
If the plant does not receive a steady dose of sunlight each day, the flowering may be negatively affected, and the leaves may not grow properly, becoming floppy and discoloured.
Soil & Water
These bulbs prefer very well-drained, sandy, rocky or light loam soils, with a neutral ph.
They do well in a rockery.
It is not recommended to give the bulbs too much or even any extra fertiliser at the initial time of planting or during their first proper growing season as they are sensitive and need some time to establish themselves.
Thereafter they should be lightly fertilised only once in spring or summer every year.
These bulbs have low to moderate water needs, preferring to be kept semi-dry.
They are highly prone to rot if overwatered.
Directly after planting, they can be given a good drenching, and just as flowering commences, they can also be given a little extra water unless the rainfall is high.
Keep soil slightly moist during the growing seasons.
As winter approaches and the leaves start to die back, the amount of water given should be decreased, and no water need be given when they are dormant.
Propagation can be done by means of seed or offsets.
Growing from seed is a much slower process and the bulbs may take up to 4 years to produce flowers.
If planting from offsets (which should be taken from the parent plant during the dormant winter months), plant the bulbs about 15 cm apart as they multiply rapidly.
Do no place them too deep in the soil (5-10 cm) as this will negatively affect flower and leaf development.
Plant in early to mid-spring.