Calochortus syntrophus

Jane McGary
Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:42:57 PDT
This morning I was in the bulb house observing (i.e., gloating over) 
the Calochorti, and I found that a plant of Calochortus syntrophus 
has produced a tall stem with numerous buds and also a secondary 
scape branching off it with more buds. This species had flowered for 
me at least once in the frames, where I had it in an 8-inch clay pot, 
but (like most of the other species) it's suddenly much bigger now 
that it's free-growing. I grew it from seed collected by Ron Ratko at 
the type site, and I see from the recent book on the genus by 
Gerritsen and Parsons that a second site has been found 70 km away 
from the first. I had heard that the type site has been damaged by 
grazing, so I was wondering how established this species is in 
cultivation. Are any of you growing it? The authors write that it has 
been grown from seed but is "reputedly difficult to get to flower." I 
don't know how difficult that would be, as I never did anything 
unusual with it; however, it's from northern California and may 
appreciate the colder winters here in Oregon, as compared with 
growing it in mild parts of California.

I'm also wondering whether Calochortus (Mariposa section) are 
self-fertile, because only one plant of this species is flowering 
this year (there are two clones present, but one is resting), and 
since it's so rare I'd like to hand-pollinate it to get seed. It had 
set seed for me in the past when both plants flowered, but the seed 
may have been sired by another of the numerous Mariposa section that 
bloom around the same time, since there were a great many pollinators 
at the old garden (very few here in the city). There doesn't seem to 
be any information in the abovementioned book about fertility.

I usually don't want hybridization among my plants, but have to admit 
that when I look at the remarkable scarlet-orange color of 
Calochortus kennedyi I wonder what its hybrid offspring might look 
like! Fortunately, however, there are two clones of it in bloom and 
I'll cross-pollinate them as soon as the pollen is ready.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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