Colchicum melanthoides subsp. melanthoides, commonly the pyjama flower and in Afrikaans the patrysblom (partridge flower), is a small cormous perennial with a very short, single stem. The flowerhead is presented upon the leaves at or close to ground level, not exceeding 20 cm in height.
The origin of the Afrikaans common name of patrysblom is uncertain. It may either relate to resemblance in the bracts of the speckled breasts of francolins or these birds’ supposed habit of scratching out the corms in search of food.
Melas means black or dark in Greek, referring to the flowerhead’s nearly black colour at the end of its cycle.
This plant produces leaves and flowers simultaneously in spring, while some others in the genus flower and grow leaves in different seasons.
The subspecies is widely distributed in South Africa, occurring in all provinces excluding KwaZulu-Natal. It is also found in at least Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Another of the subspecies is found in Kenya. The photo was taken in the Pilansberg National Park. The large distribution inevitably involves varied climatic and other growing conditions for the plant, allowing for variation.
The habitat is stony and montane grassland. The subspecies is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Manning, 2009; Van Wyk and Malan, 1997; Blundell, 1992; Germishuizen and Fabian, 1982; iNaturalist; http://redlist.sanbi.org).