The Tigridia Genus (Tiger Flower; Mexican Shellflower)

Tigridia flowers are captivating, with their lily-like, speckled blooms and vivid colors. 

Tigridia At A Glance

They come from around 35 different species in the Tigridia genus, belonging to the Iris plant family.

The resemblance is in the way these plants grow from bulbs, featuring bright colors, recognizable markings, and sword-shaped foliage.

You’ll see them growing wild in subtropical and tropical parts of America.

To give you an idea of just how old some of the plants within the genus are, Tigridia were grown by the Aztecs.

More and more cultivars have been created through hybridization, allowing for a wider array of colors.

The species you’re most likely to come across is Tigridia pavonia.

Meaning And Symbolism Of Tigridia

While the tigridia flower provokes an enigmatic presence in any bouquet, its symbolism is far from good.

The tigridia bloom symbolizes cruelty, so be careful who you give it to!

What Does Tigridia Mean?

As you might imagine, the genus name is named after the flower markings, which resemble the patterns on a tiger’s fur.

Tigridia is derived from the Greek word tigris, which means tiger.

Tigridia Uses

The Aztecs used Tigridia pavonia as a treatment for those who were having trouble conceiving. They called the flower ocēlōxōchitl, which translates as jaguar flower.

Some species within the Tigridia genus are even safe to eat when they’ve been roasted, and these form a part of both American Indian and Mexican diets.

The roasted bulbs of Tigridia plants are said to taste similar to chestnuts.

Tigridia Growing Requirements

Tigridia plants are hardy down to 41°F (or 5°C), making them suitable for USDA zones 8 through to 11.

In colder climates, it’s a good idea to dig up the bulbs before winter, after they’ve finished flowering, and store them somewhere cool and dry for winter.

They bloom in summer, reaching between a foot and 2 feet tall at maturity.

To get the best out of these plants, provide them with good quality soil which drains well, and at least partial sunlight.

It helps that these flowers are very low maintenance, and have average watering needs, making them suitable for most gardens.

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