Fritillarias in bloom

Jane McGary
Fri, 04 Mar 2005 10:06:19 PST
Mary Sue wrote:
>  I eagerly awaited the opening [of an unidentified Fritillaria], but 
> alas, on the day I was sure to see something, the flower was gone and 
> some of the leaves chomped as well. Which birds like Fritillaria do you 
> suppose? Could it be the crested blue vultures (also known as scrub Jays) 
> that are so in love with pulling out my plant tags and planting acorns in 
> my bulb pots?

I haven't noticed jays (I thought the ones with the crests were Steller's 
jay, and the scrub jay had no crest?) bothering the bulbs, though they 
devastate the hazelnut crop every year. I think what eats my frits is 
rabbits, mostly, and slugs (and in California snails) are very fond of them 
too. Deer are a main predator of wild American frits and their 
overpopulation is probably responsible for declining populations of 
fritillaria and erythronium, not to mention wild lilies. I think field mice 
and perhaps chipmunks may also nibble the foliage. Chipmunks certainly dig 
crocuses, but so far they haven't figured out cyclamen, thank goodness. The 
rabbits are also bad on the crocuses -- they love the foliage. Then there 
are the voles under the earth, and the towhees (a thrush-sized bird) 
pulling up the crocuses to eat the corms. The towhees get caught in the 
mousetraps in the bulb frames, even with the lights lowered almost shut! I 
also noticed that voles were cutting Anemone foliage and pulling it into 
their tunnels, perhaps for lining their dens, since there was no grass 
handy in that part of the garden. (They have just had a nice meal of gopher 
bait, and I hope they are comfortably dead in their anemone-lined dens. I 
closed up their holes the next day so I can see if they reemerge.)

Such are the joys of Country Life.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon. USA

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