Tulbaghia violacea is a very popular groundcover with landscapers and gardeners because of its showy mauve-pink flowers, interesting leaf texture and general hardiness. Mass planted, this species creates a striking display while in flower. It also has culinary and medicinal properties.
Family: ALLIACEAE (Onion Family)
- Tulbachia – After Ryk Tulbagh (died 1771), Dutch governor of the Cape of Good Hope, who corresponded with and sent plants from the Cape to Carl Linnaeus.
- violacea – violet, referring to the colour of the flowers .
- Wild garlic (Eng), wilde knoffel (Afr) and isihaqa (Zul).
Form: A bulbous plant with upright leaves.
Size: 30 cm x 25 cm.
- Lilac or mauve, tubular flowers, up to 2 cm long.
- Borne in multi-flowered umbels on stalks up to 50 cm tall.
Colour: Lilac or mauve.
Fragrant: Bruised plant parts smell strongly of garlic.
Flowering Months: Sep – Apr.
- The leaves strap-like, (30 by 1 cm), tapering to the apex.
- Leaves are upright from a whitish base.
- They are a grey-green colour.
Thorns: No thorns.
Fruit: A small capsule that splits open to disperse the seeds.
In the Garden:
- A popular groundcover for large open areas on pavements, in complex and office parks and shopping centre parking lots.
- May be used to good effect in rockeries and as flowerbed borders.
- A good companion plant for roses and other small shrubs prone to aphid attack.
Planting spacing: 6 per square metre.
Soil Needs: Will grow even in poor soil, but best in good garden soil.
- A low maintenance garden plant.
- Will tolerate a fair amount of neglect, but will reward TLC.
- Clumps expand quite quickly when regularly watered and fed.
- Overcrowded clumps can be lifted and divided, but they like being undisturbed.
Cold Hardiness: Very hardy.
Water Requirements: Very drought hardy, but like regular water in summer.
Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.
Roots: Not invasive.
Birds: No particular attraction for birds.
Butterflies: No affiliation to butterflies.
Bees: Probably provide bees with food
- Bulbs and leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat fever and colds.
- Also used to treat tuberculosis and asthma.
- Extracts of Tulbachia violacea have shown ability to lower high blood pressure.
- It has antibacterial and antifungal qualities.
Poisonous: Not Poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- The leaves are prepared and eaten as spinach.
- Some people plant them around their homes believing the smell keeps snakes away.
- Found in the EC and southern KZN.
- Reports of occurrences elsewhere are believed to be garden escapees.
Natural Habitat: Moist sandy coastal soil, near rivers, in grasslands and on rocky slopes.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2017.