Sternbergia question

Jim McKenney
Fri, 10 Feb 2006 11:46:27 PST
Sternbergia candida is blooming here in the Washington, D.C. area now, 
too. The plant in question is not in my garden but in the garden of a friend
who gardens in Arlington, Virginia. She sent a picture the other day and
when I opened the file, I didn't know what I was looking at. My first
impression was that it was a white Rhodophiala, Zephyranthes or some other
neotropical amaryllid. The flower was apparently big, at least big for a
Sternbergia. The flower form confused me: it was evidently wide open, flat
faced and not at all like the photos I had seen of Sternbergia candida. 
I had Sternbergia candida three or four years ago but lost the plants
(literally; they disappeared when the bed they were in was remade) before
they bloomed. Now I have a better idea of what I'm missing. 

Angelo, please tell us more about the large-flowered Sternbergia lutea. For
instance, does it form seed? I have never had a plant of the big forms of
Sternbergia lutea which would set seed (not counting the sicula forms which
do form seed here). I've long wondered if these large plants are garden
forms, maybe triploids or with irregular chromosome counts. Your comments
seem to suggest that there are other big Sternbergia lutea other than the
common commercial form. Please tell us more.

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the storm which John
Lonsdale mentioned is predicted to dump as much as 12 inches of snow on us.

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