Oporanthous bulbs + "oporanthy"

antennaria@charter.net antennaria@charter.net
Mon, 27 Aug 2007 10:31:36 PDT
John Grimshaw <j.grimshaw@virgin.net> wrote:

>> Mark McDonough wrote: > All this talk of Oporanthous bulbs, 
>> yet no mention of Allium ;-)
> I would suggest that this is because none fits the definition of oporanthy 
> that we've been discussing, i.e. the commencement by flowering of a plant's 
> annual cycle in late summer.
> There are, as Mark has pointed out and beautifully illustrated, dozens of 
> late summer-flowering alliums, but I venture to suggest that none is 
> starting its cycle now. Even A. callimischon, indisputably autumn-flowering, 
> bears its flowers on an inflorescence produced in the previous growing 
> season. Are there alliums that truly start their cycle about now?

... and also wrote:

>Jim McKenney's invention of the word oporanthous is ingenious and 
>interesting, but I think it needs a tighter definition. From his comments it 
>seems that he would apply it principally to those plants commencing their 
>growing cycle in (late) summer with an inflorescence to be followed by their 
>leaves (hysteranthous foliage). Is this true?

... and Jim McKenney wrote:
"I use the word oporanthous itself to simply refer to the blooms of the 
season in question (although note that it is adjectival in form, not 
substantive). As such, and with a bit of metaphor, it can be applied to 
anything characteristic of that season: "a bloom in the intensity of the 
stridulating of the oporanthous cicadas" for instance."

Seems to me we're splitting hairs on a made up word, as ingenious the "word" may be.  The term "oporanthy" was also used... here again, presumably another  made up word as I can find no reference to it anywhere.  As such, I choose, as Jim has, to use his metaphoric sense of "oporanthous" to describe my oniony alliacious garden. 

On deck are a number of late flowering Allium in bud, the true A. suaveolens collected in East Germany, a blue-flowered allium collected in China by Darrell Probst that refuses to fit the keys, although coming closest to A. cyaneum if one looks at the flowers only, the Mexican A. gladulosum with few-flowered heads of dark red... still no sign of buds this year, but fortunately the bulbs have spread via thick fleshy stolons, more in the senescens/nutans clan still tight in bud waiting for September, the so-called A. thunbergii 'Ozawa' (which I believe might actually be a form of A. chinense), and a form of A. "thunbergii" from someone at the US National Arboretum that flowers November-December with typical purple heads of bloom with long exserted stamens, but with leaves that are rather broad, perfectly flat, and chartreuse green, all of which defies the identity as thunbergii... but what is it?

An sadly, I shall miss a nice allium I enjoyed in bloom the last couple years.  The label indicated the plant was collected in China by Dan Hinkley and identified as A. thunbergii.  Last year I dug up my small clump, and donated two of the three growing bulbs to a plant auction (NARGS meeting), but the plant I left behind in the garden did not reappear this spring. I believe the correct identification of this plant is A. sacculiferum.  Also, in memorium, yesterday I dumped out a potted allium, unfortunately no longer with signs of life, once containing the Mexican A. traubii.  It was a beautiful white and lavender late fall bloomer that I usually took inside to see the blooms, as the flowers surely could not survive the beginning of winter conditions.  I grew the plant since 1999, so not a bad run with this rarity.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (near the New hampshire border), USA
USDA Zone 5

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