Cape Tulips

What are cape tulips?

(Moraea species)

Moraea flaccida in flower, showing the orange to salmon pink flowers with a yellow centre.Generic Weed Distribution Map

  • There are two species of cape tulip in Tasmania: one-leaf cape tulip (Moraea flaccida) and two-leaf cape tulip (M. miniata). Their features are similar so for practical purposes they are treated as one weed.
  • Cape tulips are pasture and environmental weeds.
  • Cape tulips are declared weeds in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of cape tulips are prohibited in Tasmania.

    How to identify cape tulips

    • Cape tulips are perennial (long-lived) herbs growing to 70 to 80 cm high. The leaves of both species of cape tulip are long and linear and droop above the flowers; one-leaf cape tulip has a single leaf, while two-leaf cape tulip has two or three leaves.
    • Cape tulip flowers are usually orange to salmon pink with a yellow centre, but occasionally plain yellow. Flowering takes place in spring. Plants do not flower until they are two or three years old.
    • Cape tulips produce underground bulbs, or corms, each year; the corms of one-leaf cape tulips are covered by a brown fibrous sheath, the corms of two-leaf cape tulips are covered by a hard black sheath.
    • One-leaf cape tulip produces seeds. Two-leaf cape tulip does not produce seeds, but produces clusters of small corms, or cormils, at the base of the leaves and around the parent corm.
    • Cape tulips emerge from seed and from corms and cormils in autumn after rain. Depending on the season, up to 60% of corms can remain dormant in the soil, while cormils can remain dormant for up to eight years. Dense infestations can have up to 7,000 corms per square metre.

    A picture of the bulb of Cape Tulip, Homeria species. A scene of Cape Tulip, Homeria species in flower. A photograph of the flower of a Cape Tulip, Homeria species.
    Image top right: Moraea flaccida in flower, showing the yellow-centred orange to salmon pink flowers. Photo: K Fenner/DPIPWE.
    Images above left to right: Cape tulip bulb, photo: 'Crop Weeds' - JL Wilding, AG Barnett and RL Amor; A scene of cape tulip in flower; Cape tulip flower, photo: 'Crop Weeds' - JL Wilding, AG Barnett and RL Amor.

Cape tulips in Tasmania

  • One-leaf cape tulip occurs in pastures, roadsides and neglected areas in the north of Tasmania including Flinders Island (see map).
  • Cape tulips are serious weeds of pasture and severe infestations can significantly reduce productivity. Cape tulips are also poisonous to stock, and animals may be affected if there is no alternative grazing available. The plant remains toxic even when dry, so contaminated hay can also be a problem.
  • Cape tulips can also invade native vegetation and have the potential to be a significant environmental weed.

What is the legal status of cape tulips in your area?

Detailed management and control guidelines for cape tulips can be found in the Cape Tulips Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Cape Tulips Control Guide
Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control
Statutory Managment Plan for Cape Tulips
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

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