Wiki Additions: Calochortus, Xanthorrhoea

Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 07 Jan 2008 16:05:10 PST

Mary Gerritsen has added these new Calochortus species since the last 
Calochortus apiculatus, coeruleus, kennedyi, nudus, nuttallii, tiburonensis
You can access them here:…
At least in Mozilla Firefox, you can just go back and get the next one from 
the table. This saves me having to do a link for each of these.

The ongoing off topic discussion about shrubs, subshrubs, trees, and 
perennials seems an appropriate time to announce another new wiki addition. 
This is one of those genera that some people will be unhappy that I have 
included in the wiki. We decided long ago to err on the side of 
inclusiveness and as Lee P. has said have included plants that are 
relatives and may not technically be appropriate for the wiki. This genus 
is so interesting that I wanted to share it with those members of our group 
who do not know about it.

Xanthorrhoea is an Australian genus that used to be in Liliaceae, but is 
now considered to be in its own family, Xanthorrhoeaceae . This family 
optionally includes the families Asphodelaceae and Hemerocallidaceae by APG 
II, families that have genera we often consider as belonging to our topic. 
Some  Xanthorrhoea produce annual tubers during the growth cycle. So what 
are Xanthorrhoaeas? Shrubs, trees, perennials? Kew describes most of the 
species as nanophanerophytes, but a few as hemicryptophytes.
stems: woody and persisting for several years
buds: above soil level but normally below 3 m
e.g.: shrubs

stems: herbaceous, often dying back after the growing season, with shoots
at soil level surviving
buds: just on or below soil level
e.g.: Aster, Viola odorata

In Australia these are known as Grass Trees since the leaves are grass 
like. Some of the species rarely bloom except after fires which stimulates 
them into a reproduction cycle. There is a very long spike with small 
flowers opening first on the north side of the scape. Don Journet showed us 
pictures of them in bloom in mass when we visited him and I was envious of 
his opportunity to witness this. But then we were fortunate to see many in 
bloom in the Grampians where there had been fires in the summer. There is a 
lot of activity with pollinators buzzing around the flowers and apparently 
also birds looking for the pollinators according to one of my books, but we 
didn't witness this. Although they are most remarkable when they are in 
bloom, I think they are attractive too with light shining through the 
leaves as in my last example of an unknown species. The other species I 
identified mostly by what could grow in the areas we were in and by the 
process of elimination as they couldn't have been some of the other 
possible species. I understand you have to look at the leaves in cross 
section to be sure.…

It is interesting that our local fire sensitive bloomer, Xerophyllum tenax, 
also has a common name that includes grass (Bear Grass), used to be in the 
Liliaceae family and starts with X. When it doesn't bloom here, which is 
most of the time, when you see it you never expect what the flowers would 
look like if it did bloom. You might think it was a Carex. I only have 
slides of it so adding it to the wiki will have to await help from someone 
else or seeing it in bloom in the future.

Mary Sue

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