What bulb is this?

John C. MacGregor jonivy@earthlink.net
Sun, 29 Aug 2010 15:42:31 PDT
On Aug 29, 2010, at 12:44 PM, Mariano Saviello wrote:

> As far as I can see, the mysterious bulb in the picture is Sparaxis  
> bulbifera.

This group is wonderful!  Thanks Mariano and Mary Sue!

About a dozen years ago I received a single corm of this Sparaxis in  
a collection of 250 mixed Sparaxis corms purchased from van  
Bourgondien in Holland.  I lined them out  six inches apart in a rose  
bed--the only place I had available in the 1 1/2-acre Hall garden in  
Pasadena at that time,  My objective was to sort them out into colors  
when they came into bloom.  When they flowered, I lifted them  
individually and moved them to the foreground of beds in various  
parts of the garden where they fit in with the separate color  
schemes.  I was surprised to find this only yellow-flowered plant  
among the more conventional "Peacock Flower" multicolored blooms.

I moved this single corm into the swimming pool garden, where the  
year-round dominant color notes are complementary yellows and violets  
(Wisteria 'Cooke's Special Purple', Petrea volubilis, Clematis  
jackmanii and 'Etoiler Violette', Geranium incanum and 'Jolly Bee', a  
violet-colored Buddleja, Plectranthus  fruticosus, Limonium perezii,  
Goniolimon tataricum, Agapanthus 'Storm Cloud', Scilla peruviana--all  
violet--and yellow or gold Acacia baileyana, Senna bicapsularis  
'California Gold, roses 'Graham Thomas', 'Royal Gold', and  
'Charlotte', Eleagnus x ebbingii 'Gilt Edge', xCitrofortunella  
microcarpa 'Variegata', Phormium vietchianum, 'Duet', and 'Yellow  
Wave', Hemerocallis 'Mary Derby' and 'Miss Amelia', Anigozanthos  
'Bush Gold' and 'Yellow Gem', Scabiosa ochroleuca, Mimulus  guttatus-- 
to name just a few).

Since then, this yellow sparaxis has multiplied handsomely into a  
clump a couple of feet long and a foot wide, with a few outliers-- 
obviously from seed.  Unlike the other hybrids, which I also  
segregated by color, the seedlings show no sign of hybridity but are  
apparently identical to their parent.  My experience with the  
multicolor hybrids is that no matter how carefully I separate them by  
color, if I allow them to seed around, my color scheme is completely  
defeated in a couple of years since there is no predicting the  
colorcombinations that will arise in the seedlings.

I am most grateful for the identification of this species as Sparaxis  
bulbiferum.  Since the soil in the area of the swimming pool is very  
spare--it started out as the subsoil excavated when the pool was  
built in the 1930s and has received little amendment ever since--and  
they are in full, hot sun, the stems are much shorter than those  
shown in Mary Sue's photo (about 12-14 inches).  For me, they have  
had no tendency to flop.

John C. MacGregor
South Pasadena, CA, USA
USDA Zone 9
Sunset Zones 21/23


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