Bulbine is a genus of tufted, succulent perennials growing from rhizomes, corms, tubers or even bulbs. The roots are wiry or swollen. A few species are subshrubs while fewer are annuals.
One to many fleshy or succulent leaves are borne, often in a basal rosette or tuft, distichous or up the stems. Circular leaf scars remain on the stems where stems are present. Leaves are channelled, cylindrical or coiled, some species have hairy margins. Leaf bases broaden into transparent wings extended into tubular sheaths.
Most species exude yellowish leaf sap, in the case of some plants featuring widely in the treatment of skin disorders like burns, itches, insect bites and cracked lips.
The inflorescence is a lax or compact, head-like raceme. Racemes may grow solitary, several or numerous, usually taller than the leaves. The peduncle is usually terete, i.e. cylindrical and mostly hairless.
The often short-lived flowers, varying in number, grow on slender pedicels above membranous bracts. The perianths are star-shaped, the mostly yellow segments free. There are also species bearing white, orange or salmon pink flowers. The outer three floral segments are usually narrower.
The stamens are erect and free, the filaments feathery or bearded in their upper halves. These appendices to the filaments probably serve as marketing ploys, for insects to overestimate the pollen on offer and thereby maximising visitor numbers.
The superior ovary is globose, comprising multiple ovules. Transformed into the black or brown capsule it is still globose, sometimes thin-walled and inflated, in some other species woody. The black or brown seeds are flat, sometimes triangular or the margins winged.
Southern Africa is home to 46 of the 50 Bulbine species, the others found in the rest of Africa and Australia.
The plant in picture is Bulbine abyssinica, seen in the Amatola Mountains of the Eastern Cape (Leistner, (Ed.), 2000; Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2015; Manning, 2007).