Welcome to my site.

I have been studying clivias and associated plants since late 2007. I am particularly interested in the history of the genus, its literature, nomenclature and taxonomy, but I also have an interest in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, culture, conservation and ecology - have I left anything out? I hope not!
I find that I can develop the greatest understanding of any aspect that I study by writing it up. In doing so, I stop myself from taking those mental shortcuts that tell me that I know everything about a particular matter, when I patently don't. My process involves reading everything that I can relating to a subject, trying to find some aspect which has not already been covered before. Now having my 'hook', I write it up freely, as my mind sees it, with no referral to anything (sort of like an exam essay). Then I go through what I have written, fact-checking everything that looks even vaguely dicey. This may take a very long time in comparison to the original write. Sometimes the final article barely resembles the piece I wrote in the first place; I may even lose the 'hook' and have to find a new one.
Since the beginning of 2009, I have been submitting my work to Clivia News and Clivia - the yearbook; the publications of the Clivia Society. One of the problems associated with having work committed to paper is that new information may be gathered later or a concept may be re-interpreted and then the writing no longer reflects one's opinion on a matter. I will not be republishing work that has already been published on paper on this site. However, any updating, corrections and additions to published articles will appear here as addenda to such pieces. Anyone who does not have access to the publications in which any of these pieces appear is welcome to contact me at and ask for a copy of the relevant original script.
Certain pieces that I write are not worth publishing on paper and these will be offered here for download. Other types of work-product, such as translations of old literature and other sundry things will also be offered here for the use of others. I also hope to build up an as complete as possible bibliography of important articles on Clivia and its close relative Cryptostephanus, and publish it on this site.

Below is an annotated list of published articles and other material, with links to further pages as required.
L. A. Law (Largely Awful). Clivia News, 18 (1): 7 - 9 (January - March 2009).
And what largely awful laws we have, throughout the land, which attempt to preserve our clivias (amongst many other things). I wrote this for publication in the Newsletter of the Cape Clivia Club; and sensibly they declined to accept it. So I changed it slightly and sent it national. This piece satisfies the skelm in me - perhaps I should become a lawyer?
"The Sacred Relationship". Clivia News, 18 (2): 11 (April - June 2009).
This piece was developed from one of a number of short 'essays' that I wrote a few years ago as I cringed at the thought of what that 'glorious' creation - man - was doing to the most fabulous body in the entire Universe - the Earth. I was pleased to review this piece, as my thoughts on the subject have evolved a little since the original version appeared.
Those with masochistic tendencies may wish to read more of these 'essays' and these are available on the Website as Reflections on Conservation.
There is definitely no Kaffir Lily on my stoep. Clivia News, 18 (2): 12-13 (April - June 2009).
This is a piece that I felt had to be written, despite the fact that it may be too contentious. In order to determine how politically incorrect it was likely to be, I submitted it to the Human Rights Commission of South Africa for comment. I am still waiting for their reply - but then, of course, they are the fringe of Government, so what should I have expected.
Richard Forrest - Son Éminence Grise
When the plant now officially called Clivia nobilis was described twice under two different names on the 1st October 1828, a "Mr. Forrest" was mentioned in the notes accompanying both descriptions. So who was this mysterious "Mr. Forrest"?
I looked him up and wrote some notes which don't quite deserve space on paper in any Clivia publication, but are quite good enough to publish here as a PDF.
Eduard Regel on Clivia miniata.
Notes on Clivia miniata were published in the German periodical Gartenflora in 1864. These notes are referenced quite often in the Clivia literature, for various reasons and I thought others may wish to study them. The Google scans and a digitised text with translation and comment are offered on this site. Updated May 2011.
To inspect this material, click HERE.
Johannes Groenland on Himantophyllum cyrtanthiflorum
One of the earliest publications dealing with Clivia ×cyrtanthiflora was a piece published in the French periodical Revue Horticole in 1859, dealing with the flowering of this hybrid at a Parisian nursery. The Google scans and a digitised text with translation are offered on this site.
To inspect this material, click HERE.
Clivia 11 contains perhaps too many of my works? Unfortunately I am not happy about various aspects of all three of my pieces as they have appeared. Some of the problems are entirely mine; others can be attributed to the editorial team. In order to knock these articles into shape, I have put up some material here pointing to my disasters in this regard, and those of others.
Charles Darwin - Clivia Grower. Clivia 11 : 22-26 (2009).
I cannot be accused of loving Darwin with all my heart. When it comes to the revelation of evolutionary theory, Alfred Russel Wallace is tops in my book. However, Darwin's ability to work relentlessly to understand every aspect of a field of interest he was studying, is deserving of huge admiration and points to why Darwin must be considered as one of the greatest scientists ever born.
Regarding my article, the biggest problem here is that an earlier iteration was published in place of the most up-to-date version. This is no train smash, as the most important change was an added paragraph, which will be published elsewhere. The most embarrassing aspect comes about in that while I somewhat lampoon Darwin's spelling of 'Praal' amongst others, I can't spell 'Houwhoek' correctly myself (although I had caught that one long before the piece was published and the change had been incorporated in the updated version). So this must be a case of the pot calling the kettle black !
Anyone who wishes to see the piece as I would have liked to have had it appear can contact me: and I will forward same in PDF.
Georges van Son's Cryptostephanus. Clivia 11 : 22-26 (2009).
I have for many years found the late Georges van Son to be such an interesting fellow that I have spent much time e-stalking him. This piece deals with the finding and blooming of his eponymous Cryptostephanus. Some of the other results of my general studies on the man can be found on http://pennypoint9.itgo.com/vanson/. Just as my piece went to the printers, I detected an error in it, but it was too late to have this corrected. There are also a number of other problems that were noticed post-publication. This is all detailed HERE.
Cyrtanthiflora's Début. Clivia 11 : 65-71 (2009).
This is the first of what I consider to be significant contributions to the nomenclature of clivias. I started writing it in 2007 and submitted it for inclusion in last year's Clivia 10. Like most of my other work, it has gone through numerous versions in the process of its evolution. I have recently changed the final version that was published following further researches into the names Imatophyllum, Imantophyllum and Himantophyllum.
Unfortunately, in the printing of the article, one massive and inexplicable change was made to my script, whereby 'C.' was inserted into every appearance of 'Clivia ×cyrtanthiflora', causing, to my eyes at least, such confusion as to render the printed article completely useless. I cannot bring myself to even read the mess that has been thus produced.
To get over myself, I am offering the article as a downloadable PDF, in the form in which it should be rendered; and my second version incorporating the latest updates is now also available. Updated May 2011.
Hop to the update and download page by clicking HERE.
This download page also now incorporates a list of links to the Internet resources that I consulted to research this article. This may be useful to others interested in a wide range of material concerning the genus Clivia.
Sorry Duckie, 'Polytepal' is not a word. Clivia News, 18 (3 & 4): 5-6 (July - December 2009).
This may sound rather pompous, but I usually enjoy re-reading my articles after some time has elapsed - because they are amusing and usually quite informative. This one is an exception. I hate it. It is so frenetic and annoying, that I am hoping that they used an ink with poor lasting qualities in the printing process. I am still, however, of the firm opinion that 'polytepal' is not a word and should never be one, but I could have explained it all in a more reasoned way. That's enough about that subject.
Charles Darwin - Clivia Grower? More evidence. Clivia News, 18 (3 & 4): 7 (July - December 2009).
This is just the tackon that I mentioned above in my notes on the main Charles Darwin article published in Clivia 11, as "an added paragraph, which will be published elsewhere". Clivia News, 18 (3 & 4): 7 is therefore "elsewhere".
When is a 'Clivia' not a Clivia?
When surfing the Internet for items related to the amaryllid genus Clivia, I have found, every so frequently, that a 'Clivia' comes up that is not the one I am seeking. I soon came to realise that there were a number of 'clivias' that fall into this category, and I decided to catalogue them. The first four installments appeared quarterly in the Clivia News of 2010. As of now (January 2011) I have written the set of four this year. I am expecting to continue this series into 2012.
So far we have seen in print:
  • 1. clive, clivis, Clivia.... Clivia News, 19 (1): 15 (Jan. - March 2010).
  • 2. Pliny's Clamatory Bird. Clivia News, 19 (2): 10 (April - June 2010).
  • 3. 'Clivia laccifera'. Clivia News, 19 (3): 6 (July - Sept. 2010).
  • 4. 935 Clivia. Clivia News, 19 (4): 7 (Oct. - Dec. 2010).
  • 5. Solanum tuberosum L. cv. 'Clivia'. Clivia News, 20 (1): 5 (Jan. - March 2011).
Russell, Greig: The Heritage of the Blackbeards. Clivia News, 19 (3): 15-16 (July - Sept. 2010).
Shrieking Horror! They published a picture of me - what an unkind thing to thrust upon innocent readers. They also mis-hacked the boring and comprehensive CV that I forwarded when so requested.
The worst of the errors that appeared was that one which suggested that I was a care-giver to an Alzheimer's patient. Mother may have had a whole catalogue of diseases, but Alzheimer's was not included, fortunately. It was my old man who had had the Alzheimer's; and he died in 2001; 9 months after we had shifted him off to Nurse Ratchet's in Muizenberg, to prevent total madness on our part.
Alack and alas, my Dear Mother passed away on the 3rd of December 2010, easily and without pain (she was 86 years, 8 months and 1 week old); so I am currently unemployed.
Beyond that, I delivered my lecture at the Clivia Conference - enjoying the whole experience greatly, and then overloaded our poor editor, Roger Fisher, with material for publication in the yearbook (see below). Beside this, I have had the temerity to upload a version of my lecture and supporting material onto this very Website, and if you wish to avoid it, keep well away from http://pennypoint9.itgo.com/gladys/.
Imatophyllum? ... Tut-tut, Dr Hooker. Clivia 12 : 5-12 (2010).
Now this is a good piece of work. It IS amusing AND informative, and it sorts out a lot of the misinformation, misconceptions and miscomprehension in the Imatophyllum/Himantophyllum/Imantophyllum complex of names.
I was given the opportunity of checking over this piece and the next, and correcting it all before it was finally committed to the printer (obviously my complaints of last year fell on listening ears - Bravo). So I am completely satisfied with what has appeared in print - and have no nasty comments to pass. Of course, I have one change to make already. I have just discovered that W.J. Hooker did not intend for the question mark to appear heading the notes of his "Imantophyllum miniatum", which means that it should be ignored. To see more on this printer's error, and the original material of Hooker's Imantophyllum miniatum, click HERE.
The Blackbeard Compendium. Clivia 12 : 35-49 (2010).
You can blame me for it all - if you feel the need.
Firstly, I took Charl Malan's well-researched, decade-old piece on the Blackbeards, which had never been published in its entirety; corrected some erroneous facts, added to it, and offered it for publication under joint authorship as Gladys Ivy Blackbeard - Clivia Pioneer. Charl had so generously handed it over to me as part of his 'Blackbeard file', all of which I intend to add to the heap of material I have collected, in order to create a Blackbeard Archive to deposit somewhere or other.
I digitised Gladys's original article on clivias published in 1939 for republication here - Charl had already published Gladys's original draft back in Clivia 2.
I digitised Cythna Lindenberg Letty Forssman's notes on her visit to Scott's Farm published in 1948, for republication, to accompany the original Letty paintings of Gladys's plants that were unearthed at SANBI in Pretoria recently - and fabulous these are.
I then translated a wonderful piece of Afrikaans literature written by André P. Brink, dealing with his visit to the Blackbeards - and acquired permission to publish it.
So that is how I managed to steal half the space in Clivia 12.
Another Clivia-chomping worm in prison garb. Clivia News, 20 (1): 6-8 (Jan. - March 2011).
What can I say? If there is a new pest around, it will land up on my tray. But this is such a gorgeous caterpillar, that I know it needs much study; much in the same way as I know that Miss South Africa - also gorgeous - needs much study. Is it fair that only the pretty ones get attention in this world?
The study is ongoing. I have managed to find a number of over-summering pupae of 'my' moth and hope to do a complete life cycle study of the species over this winter, feeding the wormlings on rejected clivia seedlings (those that refuse to grow fast enough - of which I have plenty).
Stop Press: I have just discovered that Ron May of Toowoonga in Australia has found yet another species of Noctuid moth whose caterpillars chomp clivias - the Banana Fruit Caterpillar!
Pierre Duchartre and his work on Clivia.
When I was busy with my work on Clivia ×cyrtanthiflora, I encountered the meticulous work done on this hybrid and on Clivia miniata, 150 years ago, by a man who would be regarded by the end of his life as The Doyen of French Botany. When South African government ministers tell us they are "applying their minds" (ad nauseum!), they should be taking a leaf from the book of Duchartre, and not doing whatever they do do. I have collected some material together on him; translated his work into English; and assembled some biographic and bibliographic data; and I offer it here.
To inspect this material, click HERE.
George Keith Cowlishaw (18 November 1901 - 2 October 1983) and his Clivias.
The recent visit to South Africa by the International Clivia Registrar, Ken Smith, to deliver a lecture on "Australian Clivias" at the recent International Clivia Conference, indirectly led me to look into the life of an Australian Clivia breeder called G. Keith Cowlishaw. People involved in plants - and especially the numerous Scorpios amongst them - rarely fail to interest me; and Cowlishaw is certainly no exception. I have read all that I can find about him, plumped out his biography and re-interpreted his breeding strategy.
To look over my material, click HERE.
J.F.W.Bosse and Clivia miniata - A question of question marks?
Although Regel is often named as the author who transferred the species epithet miniat- to the genus Clivia, or is even the actual author of the species, I have shown in my above material on Regel that his paper is barely worth the paper upon which it was printed. Bosse transferred the species five years earlier, but, as in "Vallota? miniata", he rendered the species as "?Clivia miniata". These question marks may be amusing, but they do complicate things a bit. "Imantophyllum miniatum" must be discounted as it is illegitimate.
To see my work on this matter, click HERE.
John Lindley and the protologue of Vallota ? miniata. The root of all evil?
Upon viewing the first plant that had been exhibited in Europe of what would become Clivia miniata, Lindley pondered a name for this plant. He published this ponderings in the Gardeners' Chronicle. To see this material, click HERE.
Hell, we have all had it wrong for all these years.
"Hooker, W.J. 1854. Imantophyllum? miniatum. Curtis's Botanical Magazine 80: t. 4783" is a frequently quoted reference in the Clivia literature. However, that question mark should not be there. As one can see, these notes appeared accompanying plate 4783, which was published on the 1st May 1854.
Below plate 4785, published on the 1st June 1854, William Jackson Hooker, who was the author of the Imantophyllum miniatum notes, published a note indicating that the question mark was what can be described as a sphalma typographicum (a printer's error - sfalma (sphalma) = error - Gr.), and it was not his intention to have it published.
To get more info on this note, as well as a reproduction of the original Imantophyllum miniatum entry from Curtis's Botanical Magazine, click HERE.
What infinite cheek!
In the first issue of Clivia News for 2011 [vol. 20 (1)], there are some interesting notes on the results of hybridising Clivia miniata x C. nobilis; written by Welland Cowley. These notes are accompanied by a suggested reason for the results obtained, by Prof. Johan Spies.
Well, I didn't like Prof. Spies's explanation, so I wrote a rebuttal. It is not a very good one, yet, as I need to do some careful work in the coming flowering season to see if I can find any actual substance to my 'theory' (if it is even worthy of that epithet). Nevertheless, I offer this half-baked piece for your amusement - accessible by clicking HERE.