Saunders’ Gladiolus, also known as the Lesotho Lily, is not often seen in our immediate area, on the contrary! Rodney Moffat, an honorary research fellow of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State, now living in Clarens, says he often sees this lily in the Drakensberg but cannot recall when he last spotted it in Clarens.
This elegant lady stands 400-600mm tall, usually grows in colonies in fairly dry rocky places between 2400-3000m. The leaves are sturdy, erect and grow into a fan to 15-25mm wide with the midrib thickened, showing prominent veins. The flowers are large, more or less 60mm wide, usually downward facing and strongly hooded. It is bright red with a broad white mark and speckling on three lower tepals.
The flowers can be eaten as salad or cooked as a pot herb. It is often used in traditional medicine to treat diarrhoea.