The potential of South African indigenous plants for the international cut flower trade

E. Y. Reinten, J. H. Coetzee, B. E. Van Wyk

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64 Citations (Scopus)


A broad review is presented of recent developments in the commercialization of southern Africa indigenous flora for the cut flower trade, including potted flowers and foliages ("greens"). The botany, horticultural traits and potential for commercialization of several indigenous plants have been reported in several publications. The contribution of species indigenous and/or endemic to southern Africa in the development of cut flower crop plants is widely acknowledged. These include what is known in the trade as gladiolus, freesia, gerbera, ornithogalum, clivia, agapanthus, strelitzia, plumbago and protea. Despite the wealth of South African flower bulb species, relatively few have become commercially important in the international bulb industry. Trade figures on the international markets also reflect the importance of a few species of southern African origin. The development of new research tools are contributing to the commercialization of South African plants, although propagation, cultivation and post-harvest handling need to be improved. A list of commercially relevant southern African cut flowers (including those used for fresh flowers, dried flowers, foliage and potted flowers) is presented, together with a subjective evaluation of several genera and species with perceived potential for the development of new crops for the florist trade. It is concluded that research should be focused on potential markets rather than on preconceived product concepts. A special national effort is required to maximize the opportunities presented by the rich diversity of the flora and to develop an internationally competitive cut flower industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-946
Number of pages13
JournalSouth African Journal of Botany
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Commercialization
  • Crop development
  • Cut flowers
  • Foliages
  • Potted flowers
  • South African flora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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