Fritillaria imperialis and persica help

Jane McGary
Fri, 06 Jun 2014 16:23:13 PDT
Ian Young certainly knows more about bulbs than I do, but if I happen 
to lift one of my fritillarias while it is in growth, there is a bulb 
of the usual size present. Laurence Hill's photos of entire 
fritillaria plants, in flower, also show the bulbs. I wonder if this 
characteristic varies among the different subgenera? For instance, 
subgenus Liliorrhiza (the western American species) may add new 
scales attached loosely to the basal plate (e.g., Fritillaria biflora 
and F. striata) or may maintain a slowly enlarging disc-shaped bulb 
with numerous loosely attached "rice grain" offsets (the F. affinis 
group). In both cases the bulb is present at any time in the growth 
cycle. In some other subgenera, I think the bulb may diminish in size 
during flowering, but it doesn't disappear. Nor do fritillarias 
produce "dropper" bulbs at the base of the stem as tulips do, 
although some of the American species such as F. striata will "drop" 
their hooked scales down early in the plant's life.

Perhaps the disconnect between our observations has to do with the 
distinction between "layers" (as on a Narcissus or Allium) and 
"scales," as on a Fritillaria or Lilium? It is true that Fritillaria 
bulbs do not have completely enveloping layers like an onion or many 
of the amaryllids.

I can't defend my position with photos at the moment since all the 
frits are dormant or nearly so, but I can measure some bulbs this 
summer and, if I have enough of the species, I'm willing to lift them 
in flower and see how different the bulb size is, if at all.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

>I quote (Ian Young):
>"Classic bulbs such as Narcissus are perennial adding extra layers 
>each year all fritillaria bulbs are annuals, replacing themselves 
>completely each year with a new one that forms at the base of the 
>growing stem."

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