Crocus k. kotschyanus var. leucopharynx and C. karduchorum; was: RE: Crocus kotschyanunus ssp. kotschyanus 'Reliance'

Jim McKenney
Mon, 24 Oct 2005 11:35:59 PDT
Crocus kotschyanus ssp. kotschyanus 'JRJK' (thank you, Jane) is blooming
here now, and yes, it is a very nice form. Old, established, self-sown C.
kotschyanus ssp. kotschyanus which have been in the lawn for decades bloomed
about a week earlier. 'Reliant' has yet to appear: autumn crocus in general
are very late this year here. Crocus pulchellus is just up and C. speciosus,
although blooming here and there in the grass,  has yet to hit its stride. 

Jane, when you wrote "In the bulb frame, the lovely C. karduchorum (the real
one, not the poor form of C. kotschyanus often distributed under that
Name" were you perhaps confusing a truly poor form of C. kotschyanus with
the plant grown for decades as C. karduchorum and now known as C. k.
kotschyanus var. leucopharynx? This truly ugly form in my experience was
never distributed as C. karduchourm, but it has been widely distributed in
recent decades as C. kotschyanus leucopharynx. 

This plant which came to be named C. k. kotschyanus var. leucopharynx was
originally distributed and grown by several generations of crocus lovers as
Crocus karduchorum. It had been in cultivation for forty or so years before
getting the name var. leucopharynx and being definitively assigned to Crocus
kotschyanus, so there was plenty of time for it to become widely distributed
under the name C. karduchorum.

It is now known as Crocus kotschyanus ssp. kotschyanus var. leucopharynx and
is, to my eyes at least, a handsome crocus and well worth growing and
having. The true var. leucopharynx is not yet on the wiki, but what I take
to be this plant can be seen on John Lonsdale's site in one of his images of
the Crocus kotschyanus ssp. kotschyanus group. It is readily identified by
the lack of orange spots in the throat - in fact, there is little if any
yellow or orange in the color scheme at all, giving the flower a very cool
look. Even the branched style is white. 

But having said that, I should also mention that I have been unsuccessful in
recent years in getting stock of this variety true to name from commercial
sources. This, I think, is perhaps where Jane's "poor form" comes into play.
This poor form I have received several times and "poor form" is really too
kind a description. As I have seen it here, it rarely flowers successfully,
and when it does, the flowers are misshapen with very narrow, irregular
tepals which do not open out. The stripes seem more conspicuous in this
form, probably because the tepals are so narrow yet the stripes remain the
same width as in the better-flowered forms. This form shares with the true
var. leucopharynx the peculiar characteristic of having corms with sprouts
which grow parallel to the surface of the flattened corm instead of
perpendicular to the top of the corm as in most crocus. 

So, if you are offered a corm of something called Crocus kotschyanus or C.
k.kotschyanus ssp. leucopharynx, formerly grown as C. karduchorum, accept it
gratefully: it's a lovely crocus and well worth having (and keep me in mind
when you find yourself with extras!). 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where even leaf color seems
slow this year. 


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