Scilla species changes

Jane McGary
Sat, 13 Jun 2009 11:35:08 PDT
The revision of the genus Scilla was proposed by a botanist named 
Speta (don't recall first name). Some of the revisions seem to make a 
lot of sense to the layperson (e.g., Prospero as a genus typified by 
former S. autumnalis), but others don't appear to have made much of 
an impact on recent lists.
Quoting from Mary Sue's note:
>  From Julian's post:
>Fessia: such as F. greilhuberi, F. hohenackeri. Similar to Othocallis but
>with very different seeds: always glossy black, lacking any appendages.
>Anthers rather large. Tepals persistent. These two species are 
>listed on the monocot check list  under Fessia not
>Scilla as is Fessia puschkinioides.

This would probably include those two species and S. gorganica. 
Although described as difficult in some UK literature, these do well 
for me, and S/F greilhuberi is a good subject in the open garden. 
They're much admired in flower for their clear blue color and the 
prominent anthers. F/S puschkinioides (not to be confused with 
Puschkinia scilloides!) is a weak plant for me and I don't recall it 
looking much like the others mentioned, though of course botanists no 
longer go on morphology.

>Barnardia japonica has become the name of choice for  the plant some of us
>know as Scilla scilloides or Scilla chinensis (but they also list 39 other
>taxa as synonyms.)

You get this plant under many names, but having grown a few versions 
I think they all behave much the same in gardens. It is a fall 
bloomer with airy pinkish flowers.

>Scilla lingulata, one of my favorite fall bloomers is listed as
>Hyacinthoides lingulata without subspecies. While I'm on Hyacinthoides,
>Hyacinthoides mauritanica subsp. vincentina is listed as the accepted name
>for Hyacinthoides vincentina.

This is rather disappointing though no doubt there is a DNA-based 
reason for it; Hyacinthoides is linked in the minds of most gardeners 
with the invasive H. campanulata (Spanish bluebell) and with H. non-scripta
(English bluebell), both spring-bloomers with a totally different 
appearance from fall-blooming S. lingulata with its little succulent 
leaves flat to the soil surface. Its bulbs, however, are reminiscent 
of the more familiar Hyacinthoides species.

As for mauretanica = vincentina, all I know is that here, mauretanica 
flowers at least 6 weeks before vincentina; they come from opposite 
sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. Vincentina self-sows readily in the 
bulb frame and comes in both blue and white.

Some gardeners avoid Scilla (in the old sense) because some species 
can increase too enthusiastically for the very controlled type of 
garden, but in a more naturalistic setting most of them are really 
valuable and don't spread far. Unfortunately, commercial bulbs can 
come under the wrong names, particularly "Scilla litardieri" -- when 
I ordered it, I got Spanish bluebells. All species seem to be easy to 
grow from seed, flowering in the third or fourth year from sowing; S. 
(Prospero) autumnalis, a colonizing seeder, can bloom the second 
year. One favorite of mine is S. persica (don't know the new genus). 
S. sibirica is one that is widely sold and is correctly identified; 
it doesn't do well here in Oregon, possibly needing a deeper winter 
dormancy; I think it's one of the few species that remains in Scilla.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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