Leucojum aestivum, Loddon Lily

johngrimshaw@tiscali.co.uk johngrimshaw@tiscali.co.uk
Wed, 13 Apr 2005 00:19:48 PDT
I was intrigued by John Crellin's question about Leucojum aestivum and the
differences between ssp. aestivum and ssp. pulchellum, so spent a few
minutes yesterday scrutinising various stocks in my parents' garden.

In L. aestivum the scape is somewhat flattened and it has two 'sharp' edges.
This edge is what botanists term scarious, i.e. unpigmented and translucent,
as can be seen if you hold it to the light. In ssp. aestivum this margin has
a scattering minute bumps along it. They can be seen with the naked eye, but
a lens would be better, and they can also be felt if you run a finger along
the edge. These bumps are said to be always absent in ssp. pulchellum - as
they are in my plants, but it is a rather tenuous character. More useful for
gardeners is the fact that ssp. pulhellum flowers 2-3 weeks earlier than
ssp. aestivum, with smaller flowers: it is nearly finished here.

'Gravetye Giant' is undoubtedly a selection of ssp. aestivum, distributed
from William Robinson's garden at Gravetye Manor many years ago. It is
certainly bigger than the average L. aestivum seen in gardens. It has great
presence by a pond, for example. It's the only named clone in general
circulation, but the few of us who are interested in L. aestivum rate the
one distributed by Primrose Warburg as 'Nancy Lindsay's Best Form' to be far
superior. It is shorter but the flowers have a good rounded outline and
present a much more solid appearance than those of 'Gravetye Giant, which
has a much narrower bell. Nancy Lindsay's clone came from the south of
France. The origin of most cultivated L. aestivum is not clear: it is found
across Europe to the Crimea and the eastern side of the Black Sea, and I
suspect that some trade material is imported from the wild. It would be nice
to know the more about the pattern of variation in the wild.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567
Mobile 07 919 840 063
Fax (Estate Office) 01242 870541

Website: http://www.colesbournegardens.org.uk/
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "JohnCrellin" <john@crellin.org.uk>
Subject: RE: [pbs] "Bermudian snowdrop" <> Lodden Lily

> Thank you. If this is the only difference I am a little suspicious whether
> 'Gravetye Giant' is much different from L. aestivum subsp. aestivum which
> has larger flowers than subsp. pulchellum according to Stace. But I will
> what the "wild" ones on the River Lodden are like before I say any more !
> Do your 'Gravetye Giant' flower stems have smooth sharp edges or slightly
> denticulate ones ? (I realize it's a bit late to ask from what you say !)

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