Albuca pachychlamys (Soldier-in-the-box)

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Greetings to all our  Clarens Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”  found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.  We’ll be looking at a small geophyte that requires a keen eye and a bit of an adventurous spirit to locate.
Albuca pachychlamys (commonly known as Soldier-in-the-box in English, and mototse in sisotho), is a small monocotyledonous plant of approximately 250 mm in height, usually occurring singly. A. pachychlamys is widespread, growing in grasslands near rocky outcrops up to 2400 m A.S.L.

A. pachychlamys is a bulbous plant, with a brush of dark bristles topping the bulb and several thick tunics. Bulbs function as food storage devices for times when conditions are adverse, thereby acting as a protection mechanism in times when most other plant forms begin to deteriorate. The leaves are narrow (often less than 3mm wide). The flowers are located atop long erect pedicels with 10 – 15 mm long white tepals which are green striped, flowering from September – December. The flowers scent is also said to resemble a spicy variety of vanilla.

No medicinal uses have been attributed to A. pachychlamys as it appears that information relating to species of the Albuca genus is limited. It is this very fact that makes the plant interesting – there is still much research to be potentially conducted around the plant and until then it’s possible uses remain a mystery. The unique growth form of this small bulbous plant makes it also of aesthetic interest and could possibly make an interesting pot-plant.