This large group consists of about 250 to 300 species of gorgeous, tender perennial corms, which are mainly natives of South Africa, although some are found wild in west and central Europe, the Mediterranean to southwest and central Asia, and northwest and east Africa. The name Gladiolus is Latin for small sword and refers to the shape of the leaves. These plants have been commonly called Sword Lilies and Corn Lilies. These plants are suitable for growning in borders, flowerbeds, and containers and are excellent cut flowers. Thousands of varieties have been derived from the common Gladiolus, G. hortulanus, and come in an extensive array of colors. They produce flowers in every shade except blue and may be bi- or tri-colored. These plants produce fan-like clumps of sword-shaped leaves and range in height fom 2 to 6 feet. In the spring, summer, or fall they bear long spikes of trumpet-shaped blossoms. The flowers open first at the base of the spike with the older ones dying as the new ones unfurl. The flowers may be frilly, ruffled, or plain and range in size from 1 inch in diameter to up to 8 inches in diameter. Healthy plants produce two dozen or more flowers on a single stem.