Tropical African Gladiolus

Jim McKenney
Fri, 09 Mar 2007 10:57:21 PST
Diane Whitehead and I are certainly thinking alike today. I, too, consulted
the Bailey Cyclopedia in the two editions I have here: the original
turn-of-the-century (1904) edition and a later 1925 edition. I was trying to
find an early citation of the name murielae in an American publication.
Among other things, I also checked the 1928 spring catalog of the John
Scheepers Co. - there was no mention of Acidanthera in any form. 

But, and let this be a warning to others looking around, there was a garden
cultivar called Muriel listed in that catalog. This is illustrated - it was
a purple/blue colored cultivar. 

The illustrations in these old catalogs suggest that many of these hybrid
glads were not far removed - at least on one side of their parentage - from
wild Gladiolus. Evidently breeders were using wild Gladiolus to bring in new
colors at this time. The "blue" flowered cultivars in particular seem to
show this. 

The following species of Gladiolus were also offered in this catalog:
dracocephalus, quartinianus, psittacinus, primulinus and saundersii. 

Diane also wrote: "An interesting note from the Preface to the Second
Edition: [of the Bailey work]
"Many species have been disseminated in an experimental way, as by  
the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the United  
States Department of Agriculture ...."
Ah, those were the days!"

Well, let's not forget the whole history. They might have been the good old
days for awhile, but don't forget the bulb quarantine which followed those
good ol' days. The present problems we are having with the importation of
seeds suggests that many parties involved seem to have forgotten that sorry
episode in overweening mismanagement by the Federal Government. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where Scilla messenaica is
blooming in the cold frame today.

My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

More information about the pbs mailing list