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Products > Hypoxis hemerocallidea
 
Hypoxis hemerocallidea - Star Flower
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Hypoxidaceae
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Hypoxis rooperi, H. nitida, Hort.]
Height: <1 foot
Width: <1 foot
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Hypoxis hemerocallidea (Star Flower) - An interesting and beautiful tuberous winter deciduous perennial. From a large subterranean bottle shaped corm (also called a vertical rhizome) emerge strap shaped foliage that grows up and out vase shaped to about 1 foot tall by 2 feet wide with 12 to 18 inch long arching bright green guttered leaves, held one above the other geometrically in 3 distinct ranks. These leaves have prominent ribs and are soft to the touch with white hairs on the underside. The leaves emerge first and then in mid spring to early summer appear several 12 to 18 inch long arching spikes topped with 5 or more large, bright yellow, star-shaped flowers with several opening in the morning but closing by midday. Flowers are followed by small shiny black seeds that can take years to germinate. Plant in full to part sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally to infrequently during summer and not at all when foliage dies back in late fall. This plant is fairly drought tolerant and can tolerate our wet winters, but only if soil is well draining. Hardy to at least the high teens as evidenced by plants that were unharmed in our Christmas 1990 freeze. This is an interesting and attractive plant, both in or out of flower, and useful in a perennial garden, a rock garden, a succulent garden, a meadow planting or in containers. It is noted that the flowers are visited by bees and other pollinators but that herbivores, at least those in Africa, leave it alone so it may not be browsed by deer and rabbits in our gardens. It is native to open grassland and woodlands through much of the eastern summer rainfall provinces of South Africa and also occurs in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The name Hypoxis was given to the genus by Linnaeus in 1759 and comes from the Greek words 'hypo' meaning 'below" and 'oxy' meaning "sharp" in reference to the pointed base of the ovary. The specific epithet comes from the Greek words 'hemera' meaning "a day" and 'kallos' meaning "beauty" which is likely a reference to the short-lived flowers that superficially resemble those of the Day Lily in the genus Hemerocallis. Other common names include Yellow Star and African Potato, although this last name should really not be used as the woody corm is not edible and actually may contain toxic compounds that have been used in traditional medicine and are to this day studied for compounds that might be used for medicinal purposes. Interestingly, when this corm is first cut it is bright yellow, but oxidizes quickly to a dark brown color and these tubers have used as a dye used to blacken floors. Hypoxis hemerocallidea has long been in cultivation in Santa Barbara gardens. It was introduced into the California trade in 1972 by legendary succulent growers Robert Foster and Charlies Glass at their Abbey Gardens Nursery in Reseda, California and it was they who coined the creative name "Gorilla's Armpit" for these plants because of the remnant dry black leaf bases. They however incorrectly used the botanical name Hypoxis nitida for these plants, which is actually a synonym for the similar species Hypoxis obtusa, another garden-worthy plant that doesn't form the large starchy corm of this species.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Hypoxis hemerocallidea.