Torch Lily
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Torch Lily
P Introduced Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Torch Lily, Red-hot poker
Botanical name: Kniphofia uvaria    Family: Asphodelaceae (Aloe family)
Synonyms: Aloe uvaria, Aloe rigida, Tritoma uvaria

"Red Hot Poker" is the local nickname for these bold, handsome natives of Madagascar and tropical South Africa. Brought to England in 1707, they were kept as greenhouse treasures until 1848, when someone had the bright idea of planting them outdoors, and their abiding hardiness was discovered. Torch lily is an evergreen perennial herb growing up to 6 ft by 3 ft at a fast rate. From an 18-24 inches tall basal cluster of coarse, linear, sword-shaped, semi-evergreen, bluish-green leaves, up to 3 ft long and 1 inch wide, arises a succession of thick, naked flowering stems, typically up to 3-4 ft tall, with dense branch-end racemes, 6-10 inches long, of drooping, tubular flowers. Buds and emerging flowers are red but mature to yellow, giving each spike a two-toned appearance. Genus name honors Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704-1763) German physician and botanist. Species name means like a bunch of grapes. Torch lily is native to the Cape Province of South Africa.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in cultivation in Nainital.

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