Two-leaved Cape Tulip

Moraea miniata Andrews

Synonyms - Homeria miniata (Andrews)Sweet

Family: Iridaceae

Names:

Homeria means to join and refers to the united stamens. Miniata means red and refers to the flower colour.
Two-leaved Cape Tulip. Two-leaved refers to the presence of two leaves although up to five leaves are occasionally produced. Cape refers to its origin from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and tulip because in its country of origin it is known as "Tulps".

Other Names:

Rooitulp is the name used in South Africa.

Summary

Two-leaved Cape Tulip is a herb with 2 or 3 sprawling, dark green, strap like leaves, up to 500 mm long, produced annually from a small corm. The branched flowering stem has short-lived pink to orange flowers. The flowers each have 6 petals to 25 mm long, 3 stamens and a 3-branched style in which each branch has 2 short lobes or 2 short crests. It reproduces by corms, and cormels which may be found in the leaf axils and the withering flowers. Prior to flowering Cape Tulip can be recognised by the browning-off of the leaf tips. It has annual tops and a perennial corm.
It is native to South Africa and has become a weed of pasture, roadsides and disturbed bushland. It flowers in late winter and spring.
It is toxic to stock and most deaths occur in hungry animals that have recently been introduced to the plant.
Cape Tulips were previously assigned to the genus Homeria.

Description

Cotyledons:

One.

First leaves:

Very fine.

Leaves:

Basal Leaves:
Four to five, long and narrow. The two lower ones are 500-1000 mm long, 5-12 mm wide. The third is 120-210 mm and the upper two are short. Ribbed. Pointed tip. Hairless. Folded near the base and somewhat turned up at the edges and strap like above. The outer surface is usually darker and shinier than the inner surface. Closed sheaths. The part of the leaf below ground level is a rich yellow colour. Clusters of many small (2-5 mm diameter) cormels are at the base of the lower leaf axils.
Stipules - none
Petiole - none
Stem leaves:
Short and bract like. Clasp the stem.

Stems:

Flower stem - Single, erect and enveloped by the sheathing base of the leaf. Cylindrical. Stiff. Mainly straight with a slight zig zag near the top. Up to 400 mm. Branched near top.

Flower head:

Branched. The base of each branch is enveloped by a spathe or modified leaf.

Flowers:

Salmon pink. In the throat it has yellow triangular patches with green dots and outline. 20-25 mm diameter. On stalks in small clusters at the end of branches. The base of the flower stalks are enveloped by a membranous spathe that becomes lacerated at the tip with age. Sweet scented. Open around midday and close by late afternoon.
Ovary - Inferior, 3 celled. Style has 3 very short orange branches, and split in two at the tip, hairy on the outer edge and projecting between the anthers.
Perianth - Funnel shaped forming a small cup. With 6 free segments ('petals'), 3 inner and 3 outer ones.
Stamens - 3 opposite the outer perianth segments, with 3 staminodes in between. Filaments (8 mm long) completely united to form a tube around the style. Furry near the base.
Anthers - 3 mm long. Linear and erect. Pressed up against the style branches.

Fruit:

Green turning brown on maturity. Cylindrical capsule 10-15 mm long x 5 mm wide with no beak.

Seeds:

No viable seed.

Roots:

Fine. Shallow. Fibrous. Bulb like corms formed with many cormels underneath.
Corms - Spherical to tear shaped, 10-20 mm diameter. Underground at base of plant. Surrounded by hard, black, latticed, spine tipped fibrous material that falls away with age. The corm is yellow after removal of the covering. A new corm is produced above the old corm annually. Many small (2-4 mm diameter) cormels are produced at the base of the corm. A contractile root may form under the corm to pull it deeper into the soil each year. Young corms tend to be near the surface and corms from older plants tend to be deeper and up to 100 mm deep.

Key Characters:

Cormels around corm at the base of the plant and in the leaf axils.
Hard, black tunic surrounds the corm.
2 long leaves with up to 3 shorter leaves.
Salmon pink, 6 'petal' flower.

Biology

Life cycle:

Perennial corm with annual tops. It is 200-400 mm high, with winter growing annual leaves and flowers. It germinates in autumn/winter from corms and cormels. Flowering occurs in spring but no viable seed is produced, although a small seed capsule may be produced. Aerial growth dies in summer. Plants from cormels take 2-3 years to build up the corm size and flower. Some plants form a fleshy root below the corm that dries in summer pulling the corms deeper into the soil. This results in young plants having corms nearer the surface and older plants having corms about 100 mm deep.

Physiology:

Australian varieties tested were triploid (Morrison and Scott, 1995)

Reproduction:

Corms and cormels.

Flowering times:

Flowers from July to October.

Seed Biology and Germination

Has no seeds.

Vegetative Propagules:

Corms and cormels.
Corms and cormels may remain viable for over 8 years in the soil. Cormel densities of 200,000 per square metre have been reported.

Hybrids:

Ecology, Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Cormels may remain dormant in the soil for at least 8 years. Up to 200,000 cormels per square metre have been recorded in old established stands. Most corms will germinate under moist, warm autumn conditions. A cold late break to a season results in many corms becoming dormant. Old corms are consumed during winter and new ones form above. A large number of small cormels are formed at the base of each leaf in its axil and underground beneath the corm.
Corms have varying dormancy resulting in varying densities in different seasons. Over half may remain dormant for the whole growing season making control difficult.
Mainly spread by corms and cormels in soil adhering to machinery or animals. Wind or water may spread cormels. Road making machinery spreads it along road verges.
In bushland it often establishes at low densities and rapidly expands following a disturbance such as fire, drought or disease.

Origin and History:

Southern Africa.

Distribution:

NSW, SA, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Soil:

They grow on a wide range of soil types from sands to heavy winter waterlogged clays.

Plant Associations:

Temperate crops, pastures, roadsides and disturbed areas.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Introduced to Australia as an ornamental plant.

Detrimental:

Carrying capacity of pastures is reduced because it displaces other species and stock avoid eating it.
Toxic to stock.
Weed of pastures, roadsides, grasslands, woodlands, heathlands and disturbed areas.

Toxicity:

Toxic to cattle, sheep, donkeys, goats, elephants and humans. It is only rarely toxic to horses. Green leaves are the most toxic followed by other green parts then dry material. Toxic cardiac glycosides have been extracted from the plant.
Most losses occur in stock recently introduced. Stock accustomed to grazing infested areas are rarely affected. After treatment with hormone herbicides (such as Spray Grazing using 2,4-D) animals may consume more cape tulip and suffer toxicity. Cattle are more susceptible than sheep or horses. Eating corms has caused human deaths. Cockatoos eat corms exposed by cultivation with no apparent effects.
They have a digitalis like action on the heart.
One kilogram of fresh green leaves fed to a cow can cause death within 24 hours.

Symptoms:

Symptoms include scouring, loss of appetite, a "tucked up" stance, and evidence of abdominal pain, stiffness of the hind legs, blindness, depression, weakness, dysentery and morbidity. Skin, gums and inside the eyelids are pale. Death may occur from a few hours to 3 days of ingestion of the plant.

Treatment:

Treatment is by charcoal or kaolin dosing. Potassium salts may alleviate digitalis type symptoms.
Hungry and unaccustomed stock should be denied access to Cape Tulip.

Legislation:

Noxious weed of WA, SA, NSW, Vic and Tas. It may not occur or is rare in Tas.

Management and Control:

Apply 1 L/ha 2,4-D amine each year in late winter before flowering.
Increase corm germination by increasing the effectiveness of early rains by clearing trash by burning or cultivation in late summer and controlling summer weeds. Germinated corms can be controlled with herbicides. Cultivation to 150 mm only provides good control if done after the old corm is exhausted and before the new corms form. Dig up plants to determine their stage. A follow up cultivation is also needed. A 4 year program is required. Treatment with herbicides can be effective. Hormone herbicides (such as 2,4-D ester) are most effective when applied from corm transition stage (i.e. after the old corm has been exhausted but before the new corms are formed) to early flowering. Sulfonylurea herbicides (such as Glean® and Ally®) appear to work over a wider range of application times. Glyphosate, amitrole, 2,2-DPA and imazethapyr also have provided good control. Glyphosate may be applied with a wick applicator in spring to reduce damage to pasture species. In non agricultural conditions a mixture of amitrole+atrazine+2,4-D is effective. This leaves the soil bare which encourages better germination in following seasons.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Increase corm germination by increasing the effectiveness of early rains by clearing trash by burning or cultivation in late summer and controlling summer weeds. Germinated corms can be controlled with herbicides. Cultivation to 150 mm only provides good control if done after the old corm is exhausted and before the new corms form. This is usually in June or July but may be as late as September. Dig up plants to determine their stage. A follow up cultivation is also needed. A 4 year program is required. Treatment with herbicides can be effective. Hormone herbicides (such as 2,4-D ester) are most effective when applied from corm transition stage (i.e. after the old corm has been exhausted but before the new corms are formed) to early flowering. Sulfonylurea herbicides (such as Glean® and Ally®) appear to work over a wider range of application times. Glyphosate, amitrole, 2,2-DPA and imazethapyr also have provided good control. Glyphosate may be applied with a wick applicator in spring to reduce damage to pasture species. In non agricultural conditions a mixture of amitrole+atrazine+2,4-D is effective. This leaves the soil bare which encourages better germination in following seasons.
Control by manual removal is difficult due to many cormels formed around the basal corm and in the leaf axils and flowers. The top also tends to break off leaving the corm in the soil. Use a 10 cm soil corer to remove the cormel laden basal soil with the plant. Bag plants and incinerate or drench with diesel.
Slashing and mowing are ineffective and may increase spread by dispersing cormels.
Grazing is ineffective.
Control populations at the top of the water catchment area first to reduce re infestation of down stream areas.
For small infestations:
Hand spray until just wet in June to early September each year with one of the following mixtures: 0.2 g of chlorsulfuron(750g/kg) or metsulfuron(600g/kg) or 100 mL glyphosate(450g/L) in 10 L water plus 25 mL Pulse®. Use 50 mL amitrole(250g/L) plus 25 g simazine(900g/kg) plus 50 mL 2,4-D amine(500g/L) plus 25 mL Pulse® in 10 L water for areas such as firebreaks. In sensitive areas in spring, use a blanket wiper or sponge glove using 1 L of glyphosate or 2 g of chlorsulfuron(750g/kg) or metsulfuron(600g/kg) in 2 L of water. 1-2 L/ha of paraquat in spring is also effective.
In clover based pastures, an annual 'spray graze' with 750 mL/ha 2,4-D amine(500g/L) is cheap and effective. Spinnaker® is useful in other legume pastures.
Control normally takes several years and follow up is essential. Cultivation to expose the corms a few weeks after spraying may improve control.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported and none expected as it rarely produces seed.

Biological Control:

CSIRO are investigating insects and rusts.

Related plants:

Moraea flaccida (One leaved Cape Tulip) is usually larger, produces seed, has one, long main leaf, a light brown fibrous tunic around the corm and never produces cormels in the leaf axils or around the corm.
Moraea fugax Is not common in WA.
Moraea lewisiae is uncommon and occurs around Perth on clayey soils.
Moraea miniata (Two-leafed Cape Tulip) has more than one leaf, does not produce seeds, is usually smaller, has a hard, black tunic around the corm, and produces cormels in the leaf axils and around the corm.
Moraea ochroleuca has flowers with an unpleasant odour and often seen after fire.
Moraea setifolia occurs in Wandoo and York Gum woodlands of the WA wheat belt.
Moraea vegeta is rare and found at Maddington and in Casuarina woodland in the wheat belt.

Plants of similar appearance:

Gynandriris setifolia (Thread Iris).

References:

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia) P374. Diagram.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P374-376.

Gardner, G.A. and Bennetts, H.W. (1956). The toxic plants of Western Australia. (West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Perth). P18-20. Diagram.

Gilbey, D. (1989). Identification of weeds in cereal and legume crops. Bulletin 4107. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture , Perth). P14-15. Photos.

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #652.4.

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). P796.

McBarron, E.J. (1983). Poisonous plants. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P55. Diagram.

Meadly, G.R.W. (1965). Weeds of Western Australia. (Department of Agriculture - Western Australia). P53-8. Diagram.

Moore, J.H. and Wheeler, J.R. (2002). Southern Weeds and their Control. Photos.

Morrison, S.M. and Scott, J.K. (1995) Chromosome numbers of Cape tulips (Homeria species) in South Australia and Western Australia. Plant Protection Quarterly, 10(3):96-98.

Muyt, A. (2001). Bush Invaders of South-East Australia: a guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds found in South East Australia. (R.G and F.J. Richardson, Australia). P94-96. Photos.

Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. (1992). Noxious weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P78-9. Photos. Diagram.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P12. Photos. Diagram.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.