Sandersonia is a genus of flowering plant in the family Colchicaceae, comprising one species, Sandersonia aurantiaca. Sandersonia aurantiaca is also known as Christmas bells, Golden lily of the valley or Chinese lantern lily. It is highly prized as long-lasting cut flowers and graceful container plant. Sandersonia aurantiaca was discovered by John Sanderson, a Scottish journalist and amateur botanist, in KwaZulu-Natal in 1851, and was first described by Sir William Hooker in 1853.

Sandersonia aurantiaca is deciduous, summer-flowering, tuberous climber, growing up to one meter tall and bears orange lantern-shaped flowers. The lance-shaped leaves are arranged alternately along the stems, and some are tendril-tipped. The lantern-like flowers are produced in the leaf axils on lslender stalks. The flowers open from the bottom upwards. The fruit is a capsule containing numerous small, hard brown seeds, without a papery seed coat.

The flowers of S.aurantiaca are sometimes confused with the flowers of Littonia modesta. Flowers of S. aurantiaca is lantern-shaped, whereas those of Littonia modesta are bell-shaped with flared tepals, and a distinctive musty scent.

S.aurantiaca grows well in well-aerated, well-drained, sandy medium, and by ensuring the rootstock is not wet during the winter dormant period. Propagation of Sandersonia aurantiaca is by seed and by division of the mature rootstock. Pests and diseases are aphids, slugs and snails, snout beetles, and fungal rotting of rootstock.

Sandersonia aurantiacaSandersonia aurantiaca
Author: Magnus Manske (public domain)

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