Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa is a bulbous genus in the Hyacinthaceae family sold under the common name Glory of the Snow. Species come from mountain habitats in Crete, Cyprus, and Turkey and are hardy and like cool summer temperatures as well. The Austrian botanist Speta considers that this genus should be included in Scilla even though he has divided what used to be Scilla into many new genera. This genus was once considered different from Scilla by having the perianth joined into a tube and the stamens having flattened filaments. There is much confusion about the names and the same plant can be found under different names. The differences between Chionodoxa forbesii, Chionodoxa luciliae, Chionodoxa sardensis and Chionodoxa siehei are addressed in the RHS publication Hyacinthaceae – Little Blue Bulbs.

The nothogenus ×Chionoscilla was established to name the hybrids which appear when Scilla bifolia and Chionodoxa are growing in close proximity. When the nothogenus ×Chionoscilla was established, Scilla and Chionodoxa were regarded as separate genera. If present thinking merges these two genera, the entities formerly regarded as intergeneric hybrids would now be treated as interspecific hybrids within the genus Scilla. Kew is accepting the merging of this genus into Scilla.

These hybrids seed about freely in many gardens and can become something of a nuisance, intruding into plantings where unwelcome. Fortunately, the bulbs are never very deep and are easily moved, even in flower. In my own garden, the stray seedlings have been rounded up and segregated in a bed adjacent to a parking area. When they are grouped like this, instead of being scattered throughout the garden, they make quite an impact when in flower. Photo by Rodger Whitlock

×Chionodoxa plants, Rodger Whitlock

Chionodoxa forbesii is from the West of Turkey. C. siehei is now merged with C. forbesii plants having often been sold as C. luciliae. The flowers of C. forbesii are most often smaller than those of C. luciliae, with slightly more pointed tepals. Flowers number around 4 to 10 per inflorescence, erect to spreading, with stems growing six to twelve inches (15–30cm) tall. White, blue, and pink forms are often sold in mixes or under names such as 'Pink Giant' or 'Blue Giant', though these may actually be forms of C. luciliae or hybrids. Photos by David Pilling, the third one shows C. forbesii (left) and C. luciliae.

Chionodoxa forbesii, David PillingChionodoxa forbesii, David PillingChionodoxa forbesii and luciliae, David Pilling

Photos by Travis Owen show different forms sold as "Chionodoxa luciliae", though they are probably C. forbesii.

White form of Chionodoxa forbesii (sold as C. luciliae), Travis OwenPinkish form of Chionodoxa forbesii (sold as C. luciliae), Travis OwenChionodoxa forbesii, Travis Owen

Chionodoxa luciliae syn. Scilla luciliae a free spreading early Spring small bulb that is known as Glory of the Snow. It is native of Western Turkey near Izmir. It has 2 to 3 violet blue flowers in a loose raceme that are white at the base of the tepals with white filaments. The flowers of C. lucileae are slightly larger than those of C. forbesii, with somewhat more parallel tepal margins. The inflorescence is erect to ascending on stems four to eight inches (10 to 20 cm) tall. Sometimes it is sold in pink and white forms, possibly hybrids. Flowers are upward facing, about 3.5 cm. wide. First three photos by John Lonsdale and David Pilling.

Chionodoxa luciliae, John LonsdaleChionodoxa luciliae, David PillingChionodoxa luciliae, David PillingChionodoxa luciliae, March 2015, Travis Owen

Chionodoxa sardensis syn. Scilla sardensis has up to 22 bell to star-shaped flowers up to 2.5 cm wide in a loose one-sided raceme. It is purple-violet in bud, violet at opening, fading to violet blue with very little white in the center apart from the filaments. Photo of flowers from Arnold Trachtenberg is probably of this species from Western Turkey although it could also be a hybrid. Photo of bulbs, seed pods and seed by David Pilling, the coin is about an inch in size and the grid 10 mm.

Scilla sardensis, syn. ×Chionodoxa sardensis, Arnold TrachtenbergScilla sardensis, syn. Chionodoxa sardensis, David PillingScilla sardensis, syn. Chionodoxa sardensis, David PillingScilla sardensis, syn. Chionodoxa sardensis, David Pilling

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Page last modified on March 21, 2015, at 08:41 AM