Moraeas in bloom

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 16 Mar 2005 07:52:13 PST
Dear All,

When you grow too many things you have the advantage of finding that when 
your weather conditions change one year of seeing some flowers flourish and 
others look unhappy. We've had a milder winter than usual, almost no frost 
at all and less rain. We had a week of very warm temperatures and my tulips 
are not having a good year. I was interested in Dave Karnstedt's comments 
about Narcissus ("the roots are unable to take up enough water fast enough 
to replace that which is transpired during warm, sunny, dry weather"). My 
observations would be the same seems to apply to Tulipa as my flowers hang 
over the pot sometimes even if you are watering every day. Later in the day 
when it gets cooler and with adequate water they stand up again. I've moved 
a lot of them to the shade so some of them are a bit leggy.

On the other hand, this seems to be an unusually good year for Moraea 
blooms. In past years and maybe on another list we've talked about the hit 
or miss of Moraea. Some years they stay under ground and you don't see them 
at all. None of the bulbs seem to bloom every year. In private talks with 
Jana Ulmer and Bob Werra we are all noticing the same thing even though we 
each live a couple hours away from each other. And I have spikes coming so 
expect this show to last awhile. My Moraea tripetala has never been so big 
and had so many blooms. Will Ashburner commented on how great this plant 
was in Australia and until this year even though mine bloomed, I always 
wondered about that since the blooms seemed to last about a week. Perhaps 
it is less rain, warmer daytime temperatures and more sunshine they have 
wanted. This is the time for Moraea aristata which always does well for me, 
but it seems to be a good year for M. villosa and each one of those are one 
of nature's masterpieces. Last year I'm not even sure they bloomed. I think 
I may have mentioned when I redid a raised bed I threw all of the soil on 
the other side of my deer fence. I tried to get the bulbs out, but the tiny 
cormlets remained. This year besides the Moraea aristata that bloomed there 
last year, I see some Moraea villosa. I realize the deer could get them at 
any moment, but so far they haven't.

Also blooming this year is Moraea algoensis. I have added a picture to the 
wiki. It is a small flower, but stays open for several days and has 
produced more than one.

A number of years ago I complained that M. papilionacea I had grown from 
seed looked like M. vegeta to me. I was very disappointed. So someone sent 
me seed and it is blooming this year. Once again it looks like M. vegeta to 
me so I labored over the key in the Color Encyclopedia and ended up at 15 
and 15' and lo and behold they were M. vegeta and M. papilionacea. The 
plant in question had characteristics of both alas. It's the brownish 
vegeta color and it isn't hairy. It was about that time that Arnold posted 
the pictures from his Wave Hill visit.

Both Bob Werra and I think that picture, labeled M. gawleri, looks like 
Moraea vegeta. Unfortunately a lot of the important characteristics can't 
be determined from a picture (number of leaves, length of leaves, whether 
they are hairy or smooth, size of flowers, seed capsules, etc.) So I'm not 
sure what we should do about labeling it on the Wiki. Perhaps I'll just add 
a note that the plant was labeled as M. gawleri, but could be M. vegeta. 
Any other Moraea enthusiasts in the group (including you silent ones from 
South Africa) willing to give me an opinion? You can write privately if you 
are shy. The Moraea gawleri I saw in South Africa was all more colorful 
(brick red, orange, yellow). This is a plant I've been struggling to grow 
from seed and haven't had much luck.…

Mary Sue
In Northern California where South African Irids are in their glory, my 
first Dichelostemma capitatum opened to join some of the early Triteleias, 
and Leucocoryne coquimbensis (YEA!) opened yesterday.

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