by Stephen Mifsud
   23 May 2024      ()
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Romulea × melitensis   (Maltese tufted sand crocus)

Romulea × melitensis  (IRIDACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: Aug-2021)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Romulea melitensis - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 23-May-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Romulea × melitensisBég.
Published in Béguinot, Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 38: 327 (1907)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

No Main Synonyms

Plant Family :

Iridaceae Juss. (The Iris Family)
23 species from the Iridaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Maltese tufted sand crocus

Maltese name(s) :

Zagħfran tal-blat ta' Malta mqanfed

Status for Malta :

Endemic. Occurs only on the Maltese islands

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE ( bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc. )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Protected by law: Regulation 26 of [S.L. 549.44] (Strictly protected endemic species)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

February – March

Colour of Flowers:

Violet, Lilac or white


Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Romulea: A Genus named for Romulus, a legendary leader of the Romans and founder of Rome. (Roman origin )
melitensis: "Originating from or related to the Maltese Islands. ( )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

Morphological analysis demostrated that this species is a hybrid between R. columnae and R. variicolor having intermediate characters of the two parents, always co-occur with the two putative parents, and apparently it is sterile. It has a distinct feature of reproducing vegetatively forming densely packed clusters and hence forming small tufts. A controversial species described for it's damp habitat, late flowering (March-April) and small tepals only about 1mm(?) wide. The photos in this page were taken in April in a damp habitat very close to the coast

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Species endemic to the Maltese Islands, not found in the rest of Europe
Preferred habitat in Malta: Footpaths, exposed disturbed rocky ground, low or unvegitated garigue, damp rock basins
Botanical Description: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Distributional range: Malta
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Sicily and/or Malta
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  

Links & Further literature (4 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




A review of Romulea Maratti (Iridaceae) in the Maltese Islands Stephen Mifsud  (2015)
Rediscovery and taxonomic analysis of Romulea melitensis (Iridaceae) from the Maltese islands Stephen Mifsud  (2021)
Assessment of Romulea variicolor for IUCN Redlist Stephen Mifsud  (2018)
Synopsis of Romulea (Fam. Iridaceae) on the Maltese Islands (Poster presentation for XV Optima Meeting) Stephen Mifsud  (2016)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (13 images)
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-0.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-1.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-2.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-3.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-4.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-5.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-6.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-7.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-8.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-9.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-10.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-11.
   Romulea × melitensis   -   Image Code: RMLMT-12.

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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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