(Thunberg), Goldblatt & J. C. Manning, Syst. Bot. 20: 171. 1995.
Gladiolus laxus Thunberg, Fl. Cap. ed. 2, 15. 1823; Anomatheca cruenta Lindley; A. laxa (Thunberg) Goldblatt; Freesia cruenta (Lindley) Klatt; Lapeirousia laxa (Thunberg) N. E. Brown
Plants 20—35 cm. Stems erect or inclined, flexed outward below base of spike, usually branched, smooth. Leaves several, erect; blades usually shortly exceeding spike. Spike nearly horizontal, 2—6-flowered; spathes 6—8(—13) mm, outer slightly larger than inner, becoming membranous above, apex often dark brown, bifid. Flowers unscented, hypocrateriform; perianth tube cylindric, widening slightly at apex, 18—33 mm; tepals spreading at right angle to tube, pink to red [pale blue to white] with dark red [blue-violet] marks at base of lower 3 tepals, ovate to oblong, 9—13 mm; filaments exserted 1.5—2 mm from tube; anthers 3—4 mm; style branching between base and middle of anthers; branches ca. 2.5 mm, often tangled among anthers. Capsules 9—12 × 9—10 mm, sparsely papillose. Seeds 2—3 mm diam.
Flowering mainly Apr. Disturbed sites, abandoned gardens; introduced; Fla.; s, e Africa.
Freesia laxa has been in cultivation for nearly 200 years, although it has never been particularly popular. For years it was known by the later synonyms Lapeirousia cruenta or L. laxa. Two subspecies are recognized: subsp. azurea (Goldblatt & Hutchings) Goldblatt & J. C. Manning from Mozambique and Natal, South Africa, having white tepals with blue to violet markings; and subsp. laxa, having pink to red tepals with red markings. Only the latter is found in North America.