Origin and Habitat: Albuca spiralis is distributed over a wide area of the Cape from the Peninsula and Worcester throughout the Roggeveld to Namaqualand, South Africa.
Altitude range: 60 – 2255 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: Albuca spiralis is a fairly common winter-growing geophyte found in seasonally dry grasslands, open woodlands and Scrublands.
ENGLISH: Spiral leaved albuca, Spiral albuca, Slime lily, Helicopter Plant, Corkscrew Albuca, Curly albuca, Sticky Corkscrew Lily
Description: Corkscrew Albuca (Albuca spiralis) is a small geophyte growing singly or forming small groups by division. This Albuca gives an interesting show even when it is not in flower. During the winter months when it is actively growing its wiry foliage corkscrews and twists in a most fascinating manner. The degree of spiral depends on the clone and the amount of sunlight the plant receives when the leaves started growing. The flowers are green with pale yellow margins, nodding, sweetly scented, reportedly of butter and vanilla, and look like helicopters. The smell can be quite strong on a warm sunny day. After flowering and seed production is complete the bulb goes to sleep for the summer but reliably returns in the autumn to invigorate the winter landscape.
Bulbs: Small, ovoid. In habitat, the bulb grows to a maximum of about 8 to 25 mm long, and 5 to 25 mm wide, but can be twice that size in cultivation. Bulb scales green, fleshy, withering gray and membranous. Tunics not splitting into fibres at the top. The bulb tips are exposed.
Roots: Fibrous and terete.
Leaves: 10–12(-20), form a basal rosette, linear filiform, subterete, 2-15(-22) cm long, 1 mm wide, channelled down the face, upright at bottom then convolute and spirally twisted at end, densely glandular-pubescent, flexuose villose scabrous than the scape. The tightly coiled leaves of Albuca spiralis ensure maximum exposure to weak winter radiation, and reduce the risk of wind damage to valuable photosynthetic tissue. The leaves dry up in summer.
Inflorescence: Peduncle slender, 15-20 cm long with glandular hairs at the base. Raceme laxly (1-)4-5(–6)-flowered; pedicels nodding at the apex, lower 2-2.5 cm long. Bracts lanceolate, 12-18 mm long and 4 mm wide.
Flowers: Diurnal, yellow and nodding. Perianth 15-18 mm long, yellow, banded with green; interior petals vaulted at the tip. Stamens all fertile. Style prismatic, as long as the ovary; stigma tricuspidate with three long fine tips. Ovary obovate-ellipsoidal to spherical
Blooming season: The flowering period is late winter to mid-spring.
Waterings: Water sparingly when growing and a little care, it is a definite water-wise species. The curling of the leaf tips is largely dependent on weather conditions. Cool dry conditions encourage the leaf tips to curl, while warm most conditions tends to encourage erect, straight, uncurled leaf tips. If the plants are allowed to dry too much, they will go dormant.