Gladiolus L.

Gladiolus is a large genus with ca. 260 species in the Old World. It is most diverse in South Africa, especially in the Cape where 105 species occur, 86 of which endemic (Mabberley 2008). The genus is very popular in horticulture (see Yeo 1986 for a useful account of the genus in cultivation in Europe; also: Jäger & al. 2008). Many of these cultivated large-flowered plants are complex hybrids involving four or up to seven species (Jäger & al. l.c.). Despite being frequently cultivated, also in Belgium, they are rarely seen in the wild. A few species of Gladiolus are agricultural weeds, e.g. G. italicus Mill.

Two species of Gladiolus have been recorded in Belgium, both are probably ephemerals.

1       Flowers 6-15 cm wide, variously colored (yellow, orange, purplish, etc.), lobes much overlapping. Inflorescence dense, multi-flowered === Gladiolus xhortulanus

         Flowers at most 2 cm wide, pink, lobes scarcely overlapping. Inflorescence lax, few-flowered === G. italicus


Buchanan A. (s.d.) The Taxonomic Status of Gladiolus illyricus (Iridaceae) in Britain. PhD thesis, London [available online at:]

Gabrielian E. (2001) The genus Gladiolus (Iridaceae) in southern Transcaucasia. Bocconea 13: 445-455. [available online at:]

Goldblatt P. (1989) Systematics of Gladiolus L. (Iridaceae - Ixioideae) in Madagascar. Bull. Mus. Nation. Hist. Nat., B, Adansonia 11(3): 235-255.

Goldblatt P. (1996) Gladiolus in tropical Africa: systematics biology and evolution. Portland, Or., Timber Press: 321 pp.

Goldblatt P. (2002) Gladiolus. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.), Flora of North America, vol. 26. Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford: 407-409. [available online at:]

Goldblatt P. & Manning J. (1998) Gladiolus in Southern Africa. Vlaeburg, Cape Town, Fernwood Press: 320 pp.

Goldblatt P., Manning J.C. & Bernhardt P. (2001) Radiation of pollination systems in Gladiolus (Iridaceae: Crocoideae) in southern Africa. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 88(4): 713-734.

Hamilton A.P. (1976) A history of the garden gladiolus. The Garden 101: 424-428.

Jäger E.J., Ebel F., Hanelt P. & Müller G. (eds.) (2008) Rothmaler Band 5. Exkursionsflora von Deutschland. Krautige Zier- und Nutzpflanzen. Springer Verlag, Berlin: 880 p.

Lewis G.J. & Obermeyer A.A. (1972) Gladiolus, a revision of the South African species. Journ. South Afr. Bot., Suppl. 10. Purnell: 347 pp.

Mabberley D.J. (2008) Mabberley’s plant-book (3th ed.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XVIII + 1021 p.

Tison J.M. & Girod C. (2014a) Synopsis du genre Gladiolus L. (Iridaceae) en France. J. Bot. Soc. Bot. Fr. 68: 69-75.

Tison J.M. & Girod C. (2014b) Etude morphométrique des glaïeuls méditerranéens (Gladiolus L., Iridaceae) en France J. Bot. Soc. Bot. Fr. 68: 51-68.

Van Raamsdonk L.W.D. & De Vries T. (1989) Biosystematic studies in European species of Gladiolus (Iridaceae). Pl. Syst. Evol. 165: 189-198.

Yeo P.F. (1986) Gladiolus. In: Walters S.M. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 388-391.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith