John Bryan
Mon, 20 Jun 2005 11:45:51 PDT
Dear All:

Jim McKenney's e-mail, raises some interesting points. A geophyte is
described in the dictionary of botany as "A plant with its perenniatinbg
buds situated below ground on a rhizome, tuber, bulb or corm". Thus it
is correct to use this word, but we have, over the years, used the word
bulb, in the broad sense to include rhizomes, tubers, corms and bulbs. A
true bulb is where leaves are modified for storage, corm n underground
swollen stem, tuber a swollen part of a stem or root modified for
storage, but can be above ground, as in some Pelargonium species,
rhizome an underground stem that grows horizontally. In some plants the
rhizomes are cordlike, such as in Urtica dioica while in others they are
fleshy and serve as perennation such as in Polygonatum multiflorum. Thus
it can be called a geophyte. a stolon is actually a long branch which
can not support its own weight and new plants form at the nodes. A
stolon is not a geophyte.

But it becomes more complicated as a cryptophyte is a plant where the
perenniating buds are hidden below ground or in water, (when it is a
hydrophyte). Cryptophytes can thus include geophytes, and is a broader
term, and thus covers more genera. I have not seen this term used in any

For my part, and in my opinion, the word 'bulb' in sensu lato, covers
much with the sensu stricta referring to the organ either underground or
not, in water, in mud (strictly a helophyte) of the species in question.
I am afraid many gardeners interested in bulbs wonder what we are
talking about when we say and use the word geophyte. Bulb is in common
usage, geophyte is not. If we persist in being accurate, then the words
helophyte, crytophyte, hydrophyte and so on should be used where
appropriate. do we wish to do this? Geophyte thus has no more standing
than bulb, if we continue to use this, should we also then not use
cryptophyte etc.?

An interesting discussion, thanks Jim McKenney. it is obvious you love
'Bulbs' sensu lato!  Cheers, John E. Bryan

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