Tanzania: Ruaha NP – Ruaha Black Lily

While game driving in the Ruaha National Park, we spotted a weirdly-colored black wildflower. At the first look, it seemed like something that has already finished blooming, but on a closer examination it appeared the flowers were nearly black and very dark ruby-red. Locally, the flower was known as the Ruaha Black Lily, but trying to find a Latin name ended up googling for it for hours to no results. It turned out to be Cryptostephanus haemanthoides from the Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis) family. Indeed the flower is rare and found only in central Tanzania and some parts of southern Kenya. Interestingly, the plant spends more then half of the year underground in a bulb, then springs to life with the first drops of seasonal rains, quickly blooms, and the dries up and disappears. Attempts to get this to grow as a decorative flower were mostly unsuccessful.