Crocosmia (/krəˈkɒzmiə, kr-/;[2][3]), also known as montbretia[4] (/mɒnˈbrʃə/[5]), is a small genus of flowering plants in the iris family, Iridaceae. It is native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa, ranging from South Africa to Sudan. One species is endemic to Madagascar.[1]


Naturalized montbretia (escaped from its original garden location)

They can be evergreen or deciduous perennials that grow from basal underground corms. The alternate leaves are cauline and ensiform (sword shaped). The blades are parallel-veined. The margin is entire. The corms form in vertical chains with the youngest at the top and oldest and largest buried most deeply in the soil. The roots of the lowermost corm in a chain are contractile roots and drag the corm deeper into the ground where conditions allow. The chains of corms are fragile and easily separated, a quality that has enabled some species to become invasive and difficult to control in the garden.

They have colourful inflorescences of 4 to 20 vivid red and orange subopposite flowers on a divaricately (horizontally) branched stem. The terminal inflorescence can have the form of a cyme or a raceme. These flower from early summer well into fall. The flowers are sessile on a flexuose arched spike. The fertile flowers are hermaphroditic. All stamens have an equal length. The style branches are apically forked. They are pollinated by insects, birds (sunbirds) or by the wind. The dehiscent capsules are shorter than they are wide.

The genus name is derived from the Greek words krokos, meaning "saffron", and osme, meaning "odor" – from the dried leaves emitting a strong smell like that of saffron (a spice derived from Crocus – another genus belonging to the Iridaceae) – when immersed in hot water.[6]

The alternative name montbretia is still widely used, especially for the garden hybrid C. × crocosmiiflora.[7] "Montbretia" commonly used in the British Isles for orange-flowered C. × crocosmiiflora cultivars that have naturalised, while "crocosmia" is reserved for less aggressive red-flowered cultivars. Montebretia is a heterotypic synonym of the genus Tritonia in which some species of Crocosmia were once included. It was named by Alire Raffeneau Delile for Ernest Coquebert de Montbret [fr], a fellow French botanist on Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign.[8]


Species accepted by World Checklist of Selected Plant Families:[1]

Garden hybrids


Crocosmias are grown worldwide, and more than 400 cultivars have been produced. Some hybrids have become invasive, especially C. × crocosmiiflora hybrids, which are invasive in the UK,[10] Ireland,[11] Australia,[12] New Zealand,[13] [14][15] North Carolina,[16] and the West Coast of the United States.[17][18]

Crocosmia are winter-hardy in temperate regions. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

  • Crocosmia 'Hellfire' [19]
  • Crocosmia x curtonus 'Lucifer'[20]
  • Crocosmia masoniorum[21]
  • Crocosmia 'Paul's Best Yellow'[22]
  • Crocosmia 'Severn Sunrise'[23]
  • Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Babylon'[24]
  • Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Star of the East'[25]



  1. ^ a b c "Crocosmia Planch". Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.
  2. ^ "Crocosmia". Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  3. ^ "Crocosmia". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2020-03-22.
  4. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  5. ^ "Montbretia". Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 2023-02-10.
  6. ^ Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 144–47. ISBN 978-0-88192-897-6.
  7. ^ "How to Grow Crocosmias." BBC Gardeners' World Magazine. 20 April 2020. Accessed at on 10 February 2023. "Crocosmias are also known as montbretia, although this tends to refer to the common species Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora."
  8. ^ Diana Wells. 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names. Algonquin Books, 1997. pp. 142-143. ISBN 9781565121386
  9. ^ Missouri Botanical Gardens
  10. ^ Montbretia Plantlife
  11. ^ Wildly beautiful but caution should be taken with invasive plants Irish Examiner, 5 August 2017
  12. ^ Weeds of Australia Queensland Government, 2016
  13. ^ Common Weeds of New Zealand: Introduced and Invasive Species
  14. ^ Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora (montbretia) CABI
  15. ^ Weeds of New Zealand 2016
  16. ^ Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora North Carolina State University
  17. ^ Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora University of Georgia
  18. ^ Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora California Invasive Plant Council
  19. ^ "Crocosmia 'Hellfire'". RHS. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  20. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia 'Lucifer'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  21. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia masoniorum". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Crocosmia 'Paul's Best Yellow'". RHS. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  23. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia 'Severn Sunrise'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Babylon'". RHS. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  25. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora 'Star of the East' '". RHS. Retrieved 5 May 2020.

External links

  • De Vos, M. P. (1999) "Crocosmia". Flora of Southern Africa 7: 129–138.
  • Peter Goldblatt, John Manning, Gary Dunlop, Auriol Batten - Crocosmia and Chasmanthe (Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector Guide)
  • Kostelijk, P.J. (1984) "Crocosmia in gardens". The Plantsman 5: 246–253.