African Parrot Gladiolus
Gladiolus dalenii - Van Geel 

   Gaudy Gladiolus
   Gladiolus byzantinus - Linnaeus

Liliaceae (Lily) Family

The African Parrot is also known as Dalen's Gladiolus. The Gaudy Glad is also known as Byzantine Gladiolus, Whistling Jack, and False Corn Flag.

Plants are upright perennials from an underground corm (bulb). Distribution is throughout the Escambia region except directly at seashore; however, the plants do well in a cultivated environment.

Leaves are linear; strap-like; consisting of one whole part; no teeth and no lobes; luscious green above and paler beneath; alternate on the stem; clasping.

Flowers are arranged one above the other on a hollow stem (water pipe), opening from bottom to top. Certain hybrid varieties may be developed to differ slightly in shape and form as well as a large showy flower in varying colors or bi-color combinations.

Fruit is a bur-like capsule.

Gladiolus was once known as sword lily. Improved types were first developed from
crosses of several species native to the Mediterranean area of Europe. Later discovery of an African species led to crosses, which produced the forerunners of the attractive large-flowered types we know today. The gladiolus seen in the wild is usually a hybrid which has reverted to its original state and may be found growing around old homesteads that have long been abandoned. Although “glads,” as they are commonly called, are used to a limited extent for landscape effect, their chief value is for cut flowers. Their wide range of colors, sizes and flower types makes them particularly useful for flower arrangements. They are spectacular flowers for exhibition in flower shows and are a specialty of many amateur growers.

The corm (bulb) is actually a food-storage structure. Gladioli growing natively in the Mediterranean are exposed to a dry season and it is the function of the corm to maintain the plant while dormant until growth resumes after the rains come. The corm is a swollen underground stem. Each year a new corm is formed atop the old one, which shrivels and dies. On the upper surface of the new corm, buds develop from which the new plant grows the following year. The bases of old leaves are papery and cover the corm. These are called husks. The husks overlap each other and meet to form a point at the top. While the new corm is forming atop the old one, small new corms called cormels or cormlets are produced from the base. Cormels are a chief means of propagating certain varieties of gladiolus. During WW-II the bulbs of gladiolus and tulips were heavily guarded by Dutch soldiers and farmers as the fleshy rootstock was a chief source of food.

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