Scilla is a large genus in the Hyacinthaceae family with most species found in Europe, North Africa and western to central Africa. There are also species from tropical Africa, India, and South Africa. Some are winter growing and some are summer growing. Some prefer part shade that doesn't dry out in summer and others prefer sun with summer dry. Scilla was the topic of the week in December 2003. We were provided with an excellent Introduction by Jerry Flintoff. It was proposed by a number of taxonomists to break this genus into many smaller genera, some with only a few species. For more information about the proposed changes consult Julian Slade's post. Many years later some of these changes, but not all have been accepted.
Scilla autumnalis (L.) see Prospero autumnale
Scilla bifolia L., widespread in central and southern Europe, the Caucasus and Asia Minor, is an old garden plant. It's an early bloomer, and shows color almost as soon as the sprouts break ground. Although eclipsed by some of its relatives in both size and intensity of color, it nevertheless makes an appreciated presence in the early garden. In many areas it self-sows unobtrusively, in other areas perhaps not so unobtrusively. In the break-up of the genus Scilla in the broad sense as presented in Julian Slade's discussion, Scilla bifolia remains a member of the genus Scilla. The first form shown here, photographed by Jim McKenney in his Montgomery County, Maryland, USA garden, is a self-sown seedling from commercial stock acquired decades ago. Photo 2 of a form from Northern Greece by Rimmer de Vries.
Scilla cilicica Siehe is native to southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. It grows in scrub, under bushes, and in rocky places. Leaves appear in the fall and the lilac blue slightly reflexed flowers winter into spring. First photo taken by John Lonsdale; photos 2 and 3 taken in its natural habitat in north Israel by Oron Peri. Photo 4 by Rimmer de Vries of a plant ex RRW96.28 from Jebel Nusairia, Syria; he comments it was hardy outside in garden winter of 2013-14 in SE Michigan.
Scilla cretica (Boiss. & Heldr.) Speta is endemic to Crete where it grows in scrub at 1300-1700 m. Photo by John Lonsdale.
Scilla dimartinoi Brullo & Pavone is a beautiful yet little known species endemic from Lampedusa, a small island between Sicily and North Africa. This proposed name change for this species was Oncostema dimartinoi in the genus Oncostema. It is very distinctive and can't be confused with the closely related Scilla peruviana and Scilla hughii. It bears similarities with some South African plants. The dull green leaves lay flat on the ground in a starfish fashion, like many Brunsvigia and have hairy margins like some Haemanthus. The long bracts have hairy margins as well. The inflorescence is a practically stemless umbel of densely packed flowers, reminiscent of a giant Massonia. Flowers are nearly white with a very pale blue shade, giving the feeling of grayish flowers but pistils are darker. Those in photos are young plants seed raised, at their very first flowering and the inflorescence is about 10 cm across, but the species can grow as large as Scilla peruviana with bulbs half exposed. The last picture is a close-up of the flowers. Ants seem to be the pollinators, as they were visiting the flowers, which secrete droplets of nectar. Photos and text by Angelo Porcelli.
Scilla dracomontana see Merwilla dracomontana
Scilla greilhuberi Speta see Fessia greilhuberi
Scilla haemorrhoidalis Webb & Berthel. originated in the Canary Islands. It blooms in late winter in shades of pink, mauve and blue. The name which may mean 'blood red', 'bleeding' or 'veins' may refer to the red stems. Leaves, 3 in number are wide and fleshy. Photo taken by Oron Peri of a plant in his collection.
Scilla hohenackeri see Fessia hohenackeri
Scilla hughii Tineo ex Guss. is considered a synonym for Scilla peruviana by the Plant List. According to Angelo Porcelli it has some features that tell it apart from that species with a rather wide 'safe' margin. The leaves are wider than those of S. peruviana, almost triangular in young plants and a bit shorter, as shown in the first photo by Angelo Porcelli. The leaf base is pigmented (purplish) as is the flower stalk and the bracts and flowers are actually a deeper blue with a shade of purple too. But the easiest difference is the length of the bracts; they are by far longer in this species than in S. peruviana. Photos taken by Susan Hayek at Telos Rare Bulbs nursery owned by Diana Chapman. Diana says, "Endemic to a small island off the coast of Italy, the very rare Scilla hughii is often confused with S. peruviana. S. hughii is characterized by the much longer bracts beneath each pedicel, the purple flush to the bracts and pedicels, and the brilliant two-tone coloring of the florets."
Scilla hyacinthoides L. is a Mediterranean species, originally from Middle East but naturalized here and there in South of Italy. It needs a poor stony soil to flower well, otherwise it will develop an abnormal number of offsets missing the flowering. It was proposed to be moved into a new genus with it as the sole species, Nectaroscilla (Nectaroscilla hyacinthoides.) First photo by Angelo Porcelli second and third photo taken at the UC Botanical Garden by Nhu Nguyen of a clone from Israel.
Scilla ingridiae var. taurica (Barr) Speta is not differentiated from the species by the Plant List. The photo by Rimmer de Vries is of plants grown from seed (RRW93.33) collected in Adana province, Turkey.
Scilla japonica see Barnardia japonica
Scilla libanotica Speta is a rare species distributed in Lebanon, W. Syria and in one location on the Israeli side of Mt. Hermon. Unlike its closely related S. cilicica, Scilla libanotica appears and flower just days after snow melts. It grows in shaded rocky habitats and at the base of deciduous trees. Photo taken in its habitat by Oron Peri.
Scilla lilio-hyacinthus L. has a bulb that mimics somehow a lily bulb. Planted in the foreground of a sunny border with very rich soil in Oregon in Jane McGary's garden it increased vigorously. It was proposed to be included in the new genus Tractema.
Scilla lingulata see Hyacinthoides lingulata
Scilla litardierei Breistr. synonyms include Scilla amethystina, Scilla pratensis, Scilla albanica, Scilla italica and Scilla nutans, it is commonly known as the Amethyst Meadow Squill (or Dalmatian Scilla) and is from the western Balkans. Judy Glattstein sent the picture below to the Mystery Bulbs page of the wiki saying "I was foraging just across the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and found this bulb growing near a boarded up house for sale. There were several, some with multiple stems and some non-flowering - don't know - seedlings? The only thing it looks like to me is Scilla peruviana and I doubt that that would be winter hardy here", for more see her web page. PBS list members soon identified the bulb see list archive.
Scilla luciliae see Chionodoxa luciliae
Scilla madeirensis Menezes is native to Madeira. When Scilla was proposed to be split into a number of genera it was to be moved to Autonoe and become Autonoe madeirensis. This species has been discussed on the pbs list a number of times. It is thought to be rare in the wild, perhaps nearing extinction, but one correspondent from Madeira has seen it in a number of locations there flowering in September to October although when grown in cultivation at Kew it blooms later as the dormant plants are not watered until October. Several growers have found that their plants do not set seed. If seeds can be obtained, they germinate easily, but like the mature bulbs need to be protected from frost. Mature bulbs are a distinctive purple color and are potted on the surface of the soil and pull themselves down a bit, but the neck and shoulders remain exposed. A Kew blog post describes how they grow this species and shows photos of the mature bulbs and flowers. In referring to the color of the bulbs in the photos, Brian Whyer commented that "the Kew photos maybe exaggerate this because they have been inspected and well cleaned to minimise any mealy bug problems which they are prone to. The nice round young bulbs become quite scaly with age."
References are made to this species under the spelling of Scilla maderensis, both on the pbs list and the Internet. This spelling is not listed on The Plant List or IPNI, but Tropicos does list a Scilla maderensis var. melliodora Svent. In 2011 the pbs list correspondent from Madeira described this plant as "a very rare variant known only to occur in the remote archipelago of selvagens islands, and even here they only grow on the Selvagem pequena, an islet which is less than 1 km square of area. The amazing thing is that the flowers are scented and might be pollinated by endemic lizzards... The leaves are more silvery too and I suspect this might be a new species as it differs a lot from the standard form."
The first two photos below were taken by Brian Whyer who saw it in a nursery growing in a 12" (30 cm) diameter pot, with stems to no more than 24" (60 cm). The bulbs visible on the soil surface were about tennis bulb size. The third photo was contributed by Terry Laskiewicz and was taken at the Kew Gardens early December 2010. The final photo was supplied by Ken Preteroti who had obtained a bulb from Longwood Gardens.
Scilla mauritanica see Hyacinthoides mauritanica ssp. mauritanica
Scilla melaina Speta is one of the small scillas, endemic to the mountains of Turkey. Its seeds were sown in a 4" container in a raised bed in the garden in Tumwater, Washington -USA- (USDA zone 7A), and reached first flowering in 4 years. It has been trouble free; the slugs don't even seem to bother it. I can find no reference to any name change, and think it is one of the species remaining in Scilla. Photos by Dave Brastow.
Scilla messeniaca Boiss. would be moved to Schnarfia and named Schnarfia messeniaca in the proposed Scilla split. It is from southern Greece. It has broad leaves and naturalizes in gardens but the leaves suffer in very wet winter climates. Photos by John Lonsdale.
Scilla monophyllos Link is found in stony places in southwest Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Its claim to fame is that it has only one broad leaf per bulb. Brian Mathew describes it as interesting because of this feature, but unexciting otherwise. It has small blue flowers. The flowers on my plant are so pale, that calling them blue is a stretch. This species was proposed to be moved to Tractema.
Scilla morrisii Meikle is endemic to the Island of Cyprus where it is extreemly rare and endangered. It grows in partial shade to shade, humid habitats, blooming in February. Photo taken by Oron Peri of plants in his collection.
Scilla natalensis see Merwilla plumbea
Scilla nervosa see Schizocarphus nervosus
Scilla peruviana L. is native to Portugal, Spain, and south of Italy, not Peru! There is a tale the boat the bulbs arrived in England on was called 'Peru' discussed here. It is winter growing and spring blooming with a short dormant period in summer and the reputation for skipping flowering seasons on occasion. The proposed name change for this species was Oncostema peruviana in the genus Oncostema. The first two photos by Bob Rutemoeller show several stages of bloom. Remaining photos by David Pilling; photo 3 shows commercial bulbs on a 10 mm grid; photo 4 a seed head and photo 5 seed.
Photo 1 is of a clump with 14 flower stalks, although some not visible, grown from Angelo Porcelli. Photos 2-3 were taken by Rodger Whitlock at an early stage of flowering. Photos 4-5 were taken by Kathleen Sayce.
Here is a picture of a white flowering one taken by Mary Sue Ittner.
Scilla puschkinioides see Fessia puschkinioides
Scilla ramburei Boiss. comes from North Africa and the southern Iberian Peninsula. This species was proposed to be included in the new genus Tractema. Flowering in early spring in the bulb frame here in northwestern Oregon, it is especially pretty with its full inflorescence and broad, glaucous leaves. It does not increase fast vegetatively but is easily grown from seed. The plants shown were grown from seed obtained from Monocot Nursery in England. Photo by Jane McGary.
Scilla rigidifolia see Schizocarphus nervosus
Scilla rosenii K.Koch bears reflexed tepals a la Cyclamen; in nature it grows in alpine meadows, mostly in dampish peaty medium, apearing soon after snow melts, often in astonishing numbers. Distribution is from north east Turkey to the Transcaucasus; but it grows well enough for Jerry Flintoff in Washington in a raised bed in well-drained soil. Speta proposed moving this species to Othocallis. Photo 1 was taken in habitat in Georgia by Oron Peri. Photos 2-3 of plants in cultivation by Rimmer de Vries.
Scilla scilloides see Barnardia japonica
Scilla sardensis see Chionodoxa sardensis
Scilla sibirica Haw. has blue flowers in early spring and is native to Russia and Eurasia, not Siberia. It is easily grown and self sows readily. The species was proposed to be moved to a new genus, Othocallis. Photos taken by Jay Yourch.
Scilla sibirica alba is a white form. Photos by David Pilling, the second one compares the species, 'Spring Beauty' and alba.
Scilla verna Huds., syn. Tractema verna, was proposed to be relocated to the genus Tractema. It is native to the Atlantic coast of Europe and grows on sea cliffs and grassy places. The pictures below taken by Bob Rutemoeller were taken in May 2004 on sea cliffs in Cornwall, England. The first picture shows the habitat, the second many of various shades of blue and white growing in grass and finally a close-up.
Scilla vincentina see Hyacinthoides mauritanica ssp. vincentina