I’m hoping that this story will have a happy update, because this statistic dates from 2010. But according to Kew, there were only nine Gladiolus aureus plants left in the wild. Nine.
They are hanging on for dear life in the wind-blown part of Cape Town’s south peninsula, near where I live.
Luckily these beauties are being cultivated widely in botanical gardens and by amateur enthusiasts.
That they are there at all is thanks to an enterprising botanist, and a hospital blood bank.
And more in The Seed Thief. Although the truth of the story is way stranger than my fictionalised telling of it!