Tiny bulbs (mostly western US natives)

Barbara Weintraub blweintraub1@earthlink.net
Wed, 18 Feb 2004 11:16:13 PST
Ken Hixson wrote:
>         I'd like to suggest an anemone, but haven't grown any small ones.

I grew various colors of the common A. blanda in my previous garden. They 
come up late in this climate (May-June), remain in flower longer than many 
other spring-blooming "bulbs," and the dying foliage isn't offensive.

Uncommon and probably not in commerce is the native A. tuberosa. I found 
(and photographed) one plant blooming along I-10 near the Arizona/New 
Mexico border after a particularly wet winter and during a particularly wet 
spring. It's an amazingly delicate little thing, unexpected in the desert 
sand, that would be difficult to find unless one is looking for it. If 
there had been an expanse of them, I might have collected one. Collecting 
seed would be preferable, but doubt I could find it again when not in bloom 
unless flagged beforehand.

If grown hard, another native, Pulsatilla patens, remains in character with 
a leaf or two and a striking bloom of lavender-blue. It is fairly common in 
the Ponderosa pine zone of the Rockies, including New Mexico. It is often 
confused in nurseries with the European species which is larger and has 
more foliage. If you want the real thing, either grow it from 
wild-collected seed or get it from a reliable native plant source.

Another hard-to-find native is Leucocrinum montanum. I have quixotic 
directions for a population in/near Raton, New Mexico for which I searched 
last June. No luck. Turns out that it flowers early (April) and disappears, 
its seed forming underground. I think I've found a source in Colorado and 
will check again this spring.

Lewisia pygmaea is just that: tiny. Found in montane forest openings and 
subalpine meadows, it is impressive in large numbers. It would provide an 
early seasonal splash of color in a trough. This one is fairly common in 
the right habitat in New Mexico and, I suspect, the rest of the southern 

Claytonia lanceolata and Lloydia serotina are other small, high elevation 

Talinum /Phemeranthus sp. - Several species of Talinum are tiny! There's 
one as-yet-unidentified annual growing on my property that would look great 
in a trough; it's easy to miss otherwise. It blooms in mid-summer to fall. 
Most talinums are hard to find in the wild, let alone in commerce. There 
was an article in The New Mexico Botanist several years ago about the 
genus, including descriptions of newly-identified species.

When hiking through the same canyon where the rare endemic Ipomopsis 
sancti-spiritus grows, I found (and photographed) a 3" wide mound of a 
yellow-flowered corydalis. It looked liked Coydalis aurea, except that it 
wasn't growing upright, was in an entirely different biosphere, and wasn't 
weedy. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it again. Perhaps there are other tiny 

How's that for a start? I bet there are other tiny yet impressive native 
bulbous, tuberous, etc. plants that would look great in troughs!

- Barbara

Leaf and Stone
Barbara L. Weintraub
20 Estambre Road
Santa Fe, NM 87508-8769
7000 feet elevation

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