Tigridia pavonia

ImageWhen it comes to large showy flowers, most people think of Amaryllis or other commonly cultivated lilies. Few people are familiar with the native Tigridia, however, a spectacular Guatemalan member of the iris family, Iridaceae. Tigridia is a Latin American genus, with over thirty species native to the Western hemisphere, from Mexico to Chile. The Aztecs used to call this species ocēlōxōchitl, which means “Jaguar Flower”.

Tigridia pavonia is an annual plant, shedding its leaves and becoming dormant in the dry season. It grows quickly during the beginning of the rainy season, producing a few long, plicate, bright green leaves before blooming. The flowers are large, each about 13 cm in diameter. They last but a day, blooming in the morning and wilting before evening falls. Each plant produces a number of flowers successively, however, and when large patches of them are in bloom they can remain this way for several weeks at the peak of the rainy season.

The seeds are not abundant but they germinate easily, even between rocks. They have become somewhat of a plague in my garden, where I took this photograph.


Generalmente pensamos en Amaryllis u otros lirios comúnmente cultivados al pensar en flores grandes y vistosas. No muchas personas conocen a Tigridia, un miembro espectacular de la familia del iris, Iridaceae. Tigridia es un género latinoamericano, con más de treinta especies nativas del hemisferio occidental, desde México hasta Chile. Los aztecas solían llamar a esta especie ocēlōxōchitl, que significa “flor del jaguar”.

Tigridia pavonia es una planta anual que bota las hojas y entra en latencia durante el verano. Crece rápidamente durante el principio del invierno, produciendo hojas largas y plegadas, de un verde brillante, antes de sacar flores. Las flores son grandes; cada una mide unos 13 cm de diámetro. Duran apenas un día, abriéndose en la mañana y marchitándose antes del anochecer. Cada planta produce varias flores sucesivamente, sin embargo, y cuando muchas plantas crecen en la misma área pueden estar en flor por varias semanas.

Las semillas no son abundantes pero germinan fácilmente, incluso entre piedras. Se han vuelto casi una plaga en mi jardín, donde tomé esta foto.


Tigridia pavonia (L.f.) DC

References: Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 253–56.


About Challen Willemsen

Passionate about orchids and the Dharma, I'm a lover of this planet wandering through a garden. Intermittently I'm an ecologist, a graphic designer, an editor, a translator, a Spanish teacher, a writer, a gardener, a photographer, and occasionally a poet. Though I studied environmental science focused on ecology, in my heart I'm a botanist. También soy un amante de Guatemala, enamorado de sus bosques y sus epífitas.

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