Lady Clive’s Flower

Clivia miniata at Oxford Botanic Garden. © Karen Andrews

The first time that Clivia miniata caught my eye was in a glasshouse display at RHS Wisley. The bright orange flowers with yellow centres and dark green leaves really stood out. Clivia was the subject of an intense competition to be the first to coax the plant to flower in Britain and publish a description. On this particular occasion, Syon House beat Kew Gardens on the opposite bank of the Thames.

Close-up of Clivia miniata flower. © Karen Andrews
Strap-like leaves and fascinating architecture of Clivia miniata. © Karen Andrews

Clivia miniata is an attractive house plant. While the flowers are pretty, I also find the architecture of the strap-like leaves fascinating. The plant is of South African origin. It grows under trees in forests in its native environment. It likes the humus rich soil made up from leaf litter. It is a member of the Amaryllidaceae like Daffodils and Amaryllis.

Lady Clive

The genus Clivia was first published in 1828 by the famous botanist John Lindley. It is named after Lady Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, who loved to fill Syon House’s glasshouse with exotic plants. She was a keen botanist.

If Kew’s William Hooker had got his way, Clivia would now be called Imantophyllum. Hooker’s chosen name referred to the strap-like leaves. In this internet age, it is not surprising that articles may be published on the same day. It is extraordinary that both Lindley and Hooker published their respective plant names on the same day.

© Karen Andrews

References and Further Reading


Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.

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