Saunders' Field Guide to Gladioli of South Africa

The genus Gladiolus has fascinated plant collectors, taxonomists and the general public for centuries. 

Saunders' Field Guide to Gladioli of South Africa

Saunders Field Guide to Gladioli of South Africa
Photo Credits Nabihah Plaatjes


Known for their spectacular flowers, these highly adapted and specialised plants occur throughout Africa, Madagascar, Europe and the Middle East. South Africa is home to more than half of the world's gladioli species and the Western Cape is the heart of species diversity.

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Saunders' Field Guide to Gladioli of South Africa is the first of its kind to offer a complete photogenic record of the 166 species that occur in the region.

Posthumously completed, this book is the culmination of the Saunders' long search to find and photograph every known species of Gladiolus in South Africa.

It includes:

  • An introduction comprising a brief history of gladioli, information about the morphology and taxonomy of the genus, and guidelines for use in the field.
  • Detailed descriptions of each species, along with information about ecology, pollinators, similar species and conservation status.
  • Over 1,000 exquisite photographs taken in situ detailing morphology and habitat.
  • Up-to-date distribution maps indicating where species have been recorded.
  • A glossary of terms and illustrations unpacking difficult terminology.

Rod and Rachel Saunders were well-known botanists, widely respected for their knowledge of South Africa's indigenous plants. Their passion for bulbs led them into a project to photograph all known gladioli species in South Africa. Tragically their work on the book was cut short when they were abducted and murdered during a field trip in 2018.

Fiona C. Ross is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. She established the Saunders Guide Trust to secure the Saunders' work on gladioli and to complete the guide that they had begun before their deaths.

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