Scilla lingulata ciliolata and some crocuses

Jim McKenney
Tue, 27 Oct 2009 08:17:57 PDT
Scilla lingulata ciliolata is in bloom today in my protected cold frame.
This came from Jane McGary in 2007.  If I understand the name correctly,
this one is well named. The neat rosette of leaves do suggest tongues, and
the bristles which line the edges of the  leaves account for the ciliolata
part.  As it grows here, this is a very neat, tidy plant. When I first saw
the foliage rosette I thought “saxifrage”. At this stage, the leaf rosette
in only about three inches in diameter, if that. The flowers themselves are
nothing to get excited about; they are small and a pale lifeless gray-blue.
But there is something very appealing about the whole effect: it looks as if
it should be in a pot on a show bench. The local snails seem to like the


I have not tried this one in the open garden yet. That it initiates
above-ground growth at this time of year suggests that its chances in the
open garden are dubious. Has anyone been able to grow this one successfully
outside in USDA zone 6 or 7?   


Autumn crocuses are still trying to bloom between prolonged bouts of rain.
In bloom now, or trying to bloom, are Crocus goulimyi in lilac and white, C.
pulchellus in lilac blue and white, C. cartwrightianus, C. longiflorus, C.
thomasii, C. kotschyanus, and C. speciosus. Other species have sprouts up,
but so far do not show a spathe, or show a spathe but have not yet produced
a flower. There is evidence that rodents got into the crocus frames during
the summer, so every visit to the frames now brings on a mixture of pleasure
from the ones which are still with me and pains about the ones which have
yet to make an appearance. 


Also in bloom, if you can call it that, is that very annoying form of Crocus
kotschyanus which produces deformed flowers of a pale gray-white. Over the
years (and it’s been around for decades: don’t the growers ever look at
these things when they bloom?) I’ve bought this as Crocus zonatus and C.
zonatus albus. If forms comparatively large, knobby corms; and those corms
have a esculent quality which makes me wonder if somewhere in the world this
plant is grown for human consumption. Someone is obviously making an effort
to keep it in cultivation and in commerce. Crocus corms are said to be an
article of human diet in parts of the Middle East. Maybe these deformed
crocuses are  part of an Al-Qaeda plot to infuriate American crocus lovers. 


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden



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