Bulbs of western American Fritillaria again

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Fri, 01 Jun 2007 16:00:44 PDT
John, I know exactly what you mean by capsule and bubble, and I've often
wondered about their significance.

When I was a kid and first starting out in bulbs, I was intrigued by one
seeming contradiction in accounts I was reading. On the one hand, authors
warned about the dangers of fungi rotting the bulbs. But on the other hand,
as a confirmed dabbler, I knew that many bulbs matured inside the rotting
hulk of last year's bulb. 

I eventually came to realize the obvious: there are good fungi and bad fungi
(from our perspective as bulb growers); there are good rots and bad rots.

I did a further experiment: I packed some newly dug ripe tulip bulbs in a
medium which was alive with mycelium of what was probably the common button
mushroom. These went into plastic bags for the summer. At the end of the
summer, I checked them: the bags were full of visible, felt-like mycelium,
but the bulbs were sound. I was prompted to try this because many fungi are
evidently not at all tolerant of other fungi in their space. I assumed that
a harmless fungus would kill any funguses dangerous to the bulbs. 

That hardly qualifies as a scientific experiment, but it did confirm my

Do frits have tunics? In a sense they do: very thin ones. They are certainly
not like the thick leathery tunics of tulips, but many frit bulbs mature
with a light coating of last year's bulb still in place. And I'll bet that
contributes to the wall of the capsule. 

I've often wondered if this dried material contains any antibiotic
properties which protect the bulb. 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a staff of graduate student gardeners at our
beck and call!

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the first martagon lily
opened today.  

My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/

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