Description and Distribution:
This species is probably both the weirdest plant we have in the garden and also one of the most fascinating. It hails from South Africa and has unique flowers shaped like a starfish, usually with a frilled edge to the petal, which are scattered along the leafy stems. Althought the flowers last only a few days, but they are produced in profusion over a fairly extended period of time. The most unusual shape and coloration of the flowers make this genus worthy of more attention. It does well in full sun and well drained soil with the corms planted deeply from 10cm to 15cm.
The genus was named in honour of Giovanni Ferrari (1584-1655), the Italian botanist and Jesuit Priest professor who first described the 11 species. In 1623, Ferrari became horticultural advisor to the family of Pope Urban VIII, at the Palazzo Barberini, soon famous for its rare plants, including orange trees. He later wrote the first book on citrus trees and made the observation that eating citrus would cure scurvy. Something at the time was not taken up because the disease was not a problem in the Mediterranean. A lover of flowers, he wrote four volumes on the culture of flowers (1632) and undertook research into numerous medicinal preparations based upon citrus blossoms or fruits.
This species is regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria and Western Australia. However, in Tassie it pretty much stays within a small clump and does not self seed. We have it in our nursery but will not see it to states that declared it a weed