Peacock Flower

The proper name for this plant keep flip-flopping from the old name, Acidanthera, to its new name, Gladiolus, because the species was first described as Acidanthera bicolor. The name Acidanthera comes from Medieval Latin meaning "pointed anthers," the pollen-bearing part of the stamen.

The Peacock Flowers are very easy to grow. Five or six corms can be planted in a quart plastic container in early June and grown anywhere, provided there is full sun. By mid-July, handsome clumps of swordlike, mid green leaves will have developed. Irislike leaves grow to about 2 feet long on 3-foot stalks. In August there will be magnificent, six-petaled, star-shaped, fragrant white flowers with dark burgundy throats. Each flowering stem consists of 6-8 flowers arranged in a loose spike.

Picture of Peacock Flower, Gladiolus callianthus, Acidanthera bilocor
Peacock Flower
Gladiolus callianthus

Fragrance is reason enough to grow this plant. The flowers open in the evening, perfuming the garden with their delightful scent.

  • Other names: Abyssinian gladiolus, peacock orchid
  • Synonyms: Acidanthera bicolor
  • Family: Iridaceae (Iris family)
  • Native to: Ethiopia through East Africa.


  1. Joe Eck, Wayne Winterrowd. Our Life in Gardens
  2. Allan M. Armitage. Herbaceous Perennial Plants
  3. Beth Hanson, Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Summer-Blooming Bulbs: Scores of Spectacular Bloomers for Your Summer Garden