New crocuses described

Jane McGary
Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:18:45 PDT
In an article in The Alpine Gardener (journal of the Alpine Garden 
Society, UK), Latvian plant explorer and nursery grower Janis Ruksans 
(pardon, please, my e-mail does not support diacritics) publishes 
formal descriptions of seven new taxa of Crocus from the Balkans and 
Turkey. Four of these are new subspecies of the widespread and easily 
grown Crocus speciosus: subsp. sakariensis, bolensis, hellenicus, and 
elegans. He separates them mostly on the basis of slight differences 
in the corm tunics and the relative lengths of stigma and anther 
filaments. One new taxon is a subspecies of Crocus laevigatus, subsp. 
pumilus, described from the Omalos Plateau of Crete and distinguished 
on the basis of smaller, odorless flowers (I believe I have this 
form, grown from Archibalds' seed collection). The two newly 
distinguished species are Crocus vaclavii, a member of the Crocus 
biflorus continuum, and Crocus macedonicus, distinguished from C. 
pallasii on the basis of a variation in the corm tunic.

In an endnote, the author solicits private correspondence regarding 
the descriptions. It would be interesting to see some discussion in 
this list from members who are knowledgeable about Crocus.

I'm hoping to rebuild my Crocus collection now that I have a reliably 
rodent-proof place to grow them, where those that I managed to 
preserve have responded beautifully to the new raised bed conditions. 
I expect some of Ruksans's new collections will appear soon in his 
nursery catalog, but I am hesitant to spend something like 25 euro on 
a crocus corm; I'd much rather grow a group of clones from seed.

The same issue (vol. 81 no. 2, June 2013) offers much more of 
interest to bulb enthusiasts. The first species illustrated is 
Lachenalia rubida. A presentation on the AGS display at Chelsea 
features Arisaema sikokianum and Rhodohypoxis cultivars, among many 
other choice subjects. Robert Rolfe's entertaining piece on plant 
exploring in Turkey has Colchicum baytopiorum (another good garden 
plant) and an exquisite pan of Iris reticulata 'White Caucasus'. Vic 
Aspland finds "The perfect home for unusual winter bulbs" in a raised 
plunge bed, something that won't be news to many of us. Then there's 
a plant portrait of Narcissus cyclamineus, a lovely species that is 
hard to maintain in the Mediterranean-climate garden -- but I'll keep 
trying with the one bulb I rescued just ahead of selling my former 
home. A feature article on the garden of Robin and Sue White has 
photos of many geophytes, including lilies, Narcissus, Anemone, 
Cypripedium, Corydalis, Dactylorrhiza, Fritillaria meleagris, hybrid 
Erythronium, Crocus, and Colchicum. The show report, always a good 
space filler for this journal (I wish I'd had that resource when I 
edited the NARGS journal), shows the usual jam-packed pans of bulbs 
and a non-packed pan of the difficult Crocus pelistericus. Finally is 
a portfolio of photos by Yiannis Christofides of autumn flowers and 
scenes in Antalya, mostly bulbous species. The AGS is a prime source 
of interesting seeds and sponsors some of the best plant tours in 
collaboration with Greentours.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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