P90417Back in the good old days, Kaffir lily, Clivia miniata, which is probably most popularly known simply as ‘clivia’, bloomed with big round trusses of exclusively bright reddish orange flowers. It was such an excellent color that no one thought to change it. Flowers of feral plants that sometimes grew from seed were potentially more orange and less red, but were flashy nonetheless. There was no need, and minimal potential, for ‘improvement’.

Then the allure of the ‘rare’ happened. Yellow Kaffir lilies had previously been so rare that very few had seen them. Once the rest of us became aware of their existence, many of us wanted them, only because they were so rare. However, after seeing them, some of us came to the conclusion that they were rare because no one wanted them when the species was first introduced, and cultivars with the best color were selected and perpetuated.

Regardless, yellow Kaffir lily suddenly became a fad. Traditional bright reddish orange Kaffir lilies became passe. All the while, those subscribing to the fad seriously believed that yellow was better and more desirable than reddish orange simply because it was so very rare. All the while, yellow became increasingly popular, increasingly available . . . and no longer rare. All the while, reddish orange became unpopular, uncommon . . . and rare.

So now what? Why is yellow more popular than reddish orange now? Yellow is insipid and pale. Reddish orange is vibrant and bright. Furthermore, yellow is so dreadfully common. Reddish orange is quite rare. According to the previous justification for the popularity of insipid pale yellow Kaffir lily, bright reddish orange Kaffir lily should be popular now, not because they are so much more colorful and appealing, but because they are RARE!P90406++++

These are in Brent’s garden.

13 thoughts on “Horridculture – Pale Clivia Syndrome

    1. I thought that I would like white when I first heard about it, but it is really just a very pale yellow, so is not at all impressive for white. They yellow would not be bad where pale color is preferred. I just do not think it is the best color for the particular plants, sort of like white jacarandas. Jacaranda is so pretty in blue. In white, it just looks like a melaleuca in bloom.


    1. This yellow clivia is at work in a situation where bright orange would be prettier. The yellow or nearly white yellow would be nice with redwood trees, where the orange would be too bright.


    1. It seems like as recently as the 1980’s, almost all Kaffir lily was the same bright reddish orange color. There is much more variability now, so that even the orange ones are not all the same. Some are more orange and less red. However, I even with the sickly pale yellow ones, I never met a Kaffir lily that was not pretty in some way.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:

    Since writing this, I found a small clump of three shoots of clivia growing wild outside of our landscapes. I dug and canned the three separately before the vegetation was cut down in the area. Although I will not be disappointed if they bloom yellow, I hope that they are rich orangish red.


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