Fritillaria flowering

Jane McGary
Sun, 24 Aug 2003 09:36:40 PDT
Dirk wrote,
Interesting you say that, as my Fritillaria eastwoodiae are coming into
>flower now, at the start of the season. This species originally came to me
>as seed from Jim and Georgie Robinett, and has flowered the last couple of
>seasons at this time of year (for us it is late Winter/early Spring).
>Could it be that our edaphic conditions are more suitable (or should I say
>softer) for them to come up earlier than in the wild? With Fritillaria the
>shoot emerges with the flowers onboard, so it would seem the earlier they
>come up the earlier they flower. Does this sound right?

It makes sense. Apparently it doesn't hurt these California Fritillaria 
species to grow and flower earlier than they would in nature as long as 
they don't get caught by a severe frost in the process. Most of the F. 
eastwoodiae that I am growing came originally from probably the same 
Robinett collection as Dirk's did, although I also have another 
"population" from Ron Ratko's collection about 10 years later.

However, flowering doesn't succeed emergence at the same rate in every 
species. For example, F. viridea and F. recurva emerge here about the same 
time and grow at the same pace, but the former opens its blooms several 
weeks before the latter. F. viridea has small green (fly-pollinated?) 
flowers and comes from farther south than the scarlet, bird-pollinated F. 
recurva. Another one that flowers well after emergence is F. biflora 

David King has an article in the new issue of the Fritillaria Group 
newsletter about variation in the widespread F. affinis. He concentrates on 
flower form. I am growing six groups of this species from different parts 
of its range, and they flower at different times from early February (large 
yellow-green from California) to early May (medium-sized conical form from 
the Oregon Cascades). Forms from coastal California, Vancouver Island, an 
unidentified location, and the Siskiyous fall in between. These plants are 
grown here in identical conditions, yet they are obviously responding to 
some genetic variation in addition to temperature, moisture, day length, 
etc. There is, however, the point that these forms of F. affinis are 
different enough among themselves that, were they growing in the eastern 
Mediterranean region, they might be called different species.

I wonder if some species, or groups (complexes?) of species, are more 
sensitive to environmental "triggers" to growth than others are. It would 
be interesting to compile information on flowering season in this genus. 
Perhaps the AGS Fritillaria Group is already doing this, does anyone know? 
I was just looking at their recent newsletter and wishing they had a 
website like the PBS wiki so we could look at photos of what are agreed to 
be representative plants of frit species, since up-to-date documentation is 
at present scattered in journals not available to most people outside the 
UK. (If there is one editorial project I'd gladly do for free, it would be 
helping get Martyn Rix's eternally forthcoming monograph of the genus into 

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon

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