Baboon Flower

Babiana angustifolia Sweet

Synonyms - Gladiolus strictus. Previously misidentified as Babiana stricta.

Family: -


Babiana is from the Dutch name for baboon (babiaan) because baboons ate the corms.

Other Names:

Baboon Flower because baboons ate the corms.


A spring flowering bulb to 35 cm with a 6-8 basal hairy leaves and purple to blue flowers with dark red markings.




First leaves:


6-8 basal leaves folded lengthwise like a fan (plicate).

Stipules - None.

Petiole - 5-60 mm long.

Blade - Narrowly elliptic to sword shaped. 40-200 long by 5-17 mm wide. Folded lengthwise and ribbed. Pointed tip. Curved to parallel sides. Base abruptly narrowed to the petiole. Shortly hairy.

Stem leaves - None on scape. Bracts below the flower.


Flower stem(scape) - Erect, wiry. 150-400 mm tall and longer than the leaves. Usually single but sometimes with 1-4 short branches. Hairy.

Flower head:

A fairly loose spike of 3-10 flowers.

Outer floral bract papery, divided to the base, oblong, 10-20 mm long, striped, hairy, round brown tipped with a point and sometimes with toothed edges. Often with dry brown tips.

Inner bract papery, divided to the base and each segment has a pointed tip


Bisexual. Faintly scented. Funnel shaped with lobes. Sessile. Single flowers, each with a spathe.

Ovary - Inferior, 3-4 mm long, densely hairy. Style slender with spade shaped branches, 3 mm long. Branches are level with anthers.

Perianth - Tubular and 6 lobed, radially symmetrical (actinomorphic). Purple, blue, mauve with dark red to black markings. The lower 2 or 3 lobes of the inner whorl are paler and often with a yellow centre. The tube is dark blue, 10-18 mm long and curved with egg shaped lobes that are 18-25 mm long by 7-13 mm wide and have tiny points at their tips. The tube is cylindrical at the base and funnel shaped near the top. The lobes are often sparsely hairy on the outside mid vein just below the tip.

Stamens - 3. Inserted near the top of the perianth tube. Filaments are free and grouped to one side of the style.

Anthers - 3. Purple. 4-6 mm long. Narrowly elliptic. Attached at the base.


A 3-celled capsule but varieties in Australia don't appear to produce them.


Seed not seen in Australia. Dark, small and angular elsewhere.


Globular, fibrous corm 15-30 mm diameter covered in a reddish brown fibrous tunic with a short neck. Fibrous roots below the corm.

Key Characters:

3 stamens with purple anthers.

Globular corm 15-30 mm diameter.

Flowers with curved, funnel shaped tube ending in 6 lobes.

Radially symmetric (actinomorphic) flower.

6-8 hairy ribbed leaves in a basal fan arrangement.

Ovary densely hairy.

Floral bract divided to the base.


Life cycle:

Perennial corms with annual tops in winter and flowers in spring.



Vegetative by corms.

Flowering times:

August to October in WA.

September to October in NSW.

September to October in SA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:



Hybridises with other Babiana species.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Moved mainly by the dumping of garden refuse and earthworks.

Origin and History:

South Africa.

Introduced as a garden ornamental which has escaped.



From Gingin to Albany along the coast.


Roadsides and forests.

Sclerophyll forests




Prefers sandy soils but also grows on clays and loams from fee draining to wetland areas.

Plant Associations:

Banksia woodlands.





An environmental weed. Forms dense clumps.


Related to Cape Tulip but not recorded as toxic.





Management and Control:

Avoid moving soil from infested areas.

Grazing provides control. Spray with 2,2-DPA or wipe leaves with glyphosate.

When applying foliar herbicides, use a wetting agent, especially on young plants as they are hard to wet.

2,2-DPA at 3 kg/ha plus 0.25% wetting agent applied before flowering provides good control in bushland.


Eradication strategies:

Remove corms or spray with 2,2-DPA or glyphosate.

Herbicides will probably provide the best control. 2,2-DPA, chlorsulfuron, metsulfuron and glyphosate are the most likely herbicides to provide control.

When applying foliar herbicides, use a wetting agent, especially on young plants as they are hard to wet.

2,2-DPA at 5 kg/ha plus 0.25% wetting agent applied before flowering provides high levels of control.

Herbicide resistance:

Unlikely to occur as reproduction is vegetative.

Biological Control:


Related plants:

Babiana nana (Andr.) Spreng. has zygomorphic (1 plane of symmetry) flowers with distinctive white markings on a the lilac petal. The corolla tube is straight. The ovary is hairless or becomes hairless with age.

Babiana tubulosa (Burm.f.) Ker Gawl has zygomorphic (1 plane of symmetry) flowers curved floral tubes and blood red marks on the lower lobes. They tend to have cream to pale pink flowers with red blotches. The corolla tube is straight.

Babiana tubulosa var. tubiflora (L.f.) G.J.Lewis. The corolla tube is straight.

Plants of similar appearance:










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Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P790-791.

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Wheeler, Judy, Marchant, Neville and Lewington, Margaret. (2002). Flora of the South West: Bunbury - Augusta - Denmark. (Western Australian Herbarium, Bentley, Western Australia). P318. Diagrams.


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