Cape Tulips

(Moraea species)

Moraea flaccida in flower, showing the orange to salmon pink flowers with a yellow centre.

What are cape tulips?

  • There are two species of cape tulip in Tasmania: one-leaf cape tulip (Moraea flaccida) and two-leaf cape tulip (M. miniata). Their features are similar so for practical purposes they are treated as one weed.
  • Cape tulips are pasture and environmental weeds.
  • Cape tulips are declared weeds in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of cape tulips are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify cape tulips

  • Cape tulips are perennial (long-lived) herbs growing to 70 to 80 cm high. The leaves of both species of cape tulip are long and linear and droop above the flowers; one-leaf cape tulip has a single leaf, while two-leaf cape tulip has two or three leaves.
  • Cape tulip flowers are usually orange to salmon pink with a yellow centre, but occasionally plain yellow. Flowering takes place in spring. Plants do not flower until they are two or three years old.
  • Cape tulips produce underground bulbs, or corms, each year; the corms of one-leaf cape tulips are covered by a brown fibrous sheath, the corms of two-leaf cape tulips are covered by a hard black sheath.
  • One-leaf cape tulip produces seeds. Two-leaf cape tulip does not produce seeds, but produces clusters of small corms, or cormils, at the base of the leaves and around the parent corm.
  • Cape tulips emerge from seed and from corms and cormils in autumn after rain. Depending on the season, up to 60% of corms can remain dormant in the soil, while cormils can remain dormant for up to eight years. Dense infestations can have up to 7,000 corms per square metre.
A picture of the bulb of Cape Tulip, Homeria species. A scene of Cape Tulip, Homeria species in flower. A photograph of the flower of a Cape Tulip, Homeria species.
Image top: Moraea flaccida in flower, showing the yellow-centred orange to salmon pink flowers, © K Fenner, DPIPWE.
Images above left & right: Cape tulip bulb, & flower close up showing yellow centre, © 'Crop Weeds' (JL Wilding, AG Barnett & RL Amor).
Image above centre: infestation of flowering cape tulips.

Cape tulips in Tasmania

  • One-leaf cape tulip occurs in pastures, roadsides and neglected areas in the north of Tasmania including Flinders Island.
  • Cape tulips are serious weeds of pasture and severe infestations can significantly reduce productivity. Cape tulips are also poisonous to stock, and animals may be affected if there is no alternative grazing available. The plant remains toxic even when dry, so contaminated hay can also be a problem.
  • Cape tulips can also invade native vegetation and have the potential to be a significant environmental weed.

What is the legal status of cape tulips in your area?

What you need to do

  • If you locate cape tulips anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be cape tulips, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.
Detailed management and control guidelines for cape tulips can be found in the Cape Tulips Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control
Statutory Managment Plan for Cape Tulips
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

Cape Tulips Control Guide


  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Get in early;
  • Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control for more information);
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken.


  • Don't introduce cape tulips to cape tulip-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
  • Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential;
  • Don't rely just on herbicide control, establish vigorous pasture after removal to reduce re-infestation.

Spread of Cape Tulips

  • Cape tulips are spread by movement of seed, corms and cormils caught in farm machinery and in contaminated agricultural produce.
  • The most common method of dispersal is in hay or silage cut from infested paddocks. Cape tulip corms and cormils can also be spread in floodwaters.

Avoid the introduction of Cape Tulips

  • Avoid introducing cape tulips into clean areas, or into areas from which the weed is being eradicated.
  • Implements and vehicles which have been used on infested areas should be thoroughly cleaned on leaving.
  • Ensure that hay is free of cape tulip seed, corms and cormils.
  • See the Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control for detailed information on how to wash-down equipment and personnel to reduce the chance of spreading cape tulips.

Chemical control

  • A number of herbicides are registered for use on cape tulip in Tasmania. See Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control for more information.
  • The dormancy of corms and cormils can influence the effectiveness of chemical control of cape tulip.
  • In cool summers or where there is a late break to the season, many corms and cormils remain dormant and do not sprout in the autumn.
  • In this case, treatment with herbicide will have to be repeated over several season before there is a noticeable reduction in the appearance of cape tulips.

Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control

Herbicides for Cape Tulip Control

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