Erythronium tuolumnense

Mary Sue Ittner
Sun, 29 Sep 2002 07:47:20 PDT
Dear Cathy,

In May of 1999 the IBS forum featured Erythronium as the topic of the week. 
Diana Chapman wrote a very interesting post about the western ones which I 
will repeat below. If she has time she will no doubt respond to your 
question. Erythroniums seem to take a long time from seed to flower and so 
far I haven't gotten any of my seedlings to bloom, but I have my hopes 
about this next year. E. multiscapoideum have been growing rapidly from 
seed and some I purchased from Telos and planted out have been blooming 
every year. I was interested as I have been repotting to see that like 
Calochortus do sometimes, that offsets on that one were formed at the top 
of the bulb. Since they go very deep, it seems like a clever idea for the 
small ones to be several inches higher than the mature bulbs (and in a 
container an efficient use of the space.) Much more sensible than in some 
of the Brodiaeas and Dichelostemmas where the stolens deliver the corms at 
the very bottom of your pot.

In researching how to grow my seedlings I have read never to let E. 
tuolumnense completely dry out as it is found growing in wet areas in the 
foothills of Tuolumne county (east of Sacramento/Stockton if that helps you 
locate it.) Glenn Keator writes, "easy to grow, but needs occasional summer 
waters." He also writes that gophers are fond of Erythroniums.

Mary Sue
 From Diana/ May 1999

"I'm not really sure why the many beautiful species of Western Erythroniums
are not offered more, unless it's because they just don't increase rapidly
enough for most of the larger bulb growers to consider them profitable.
  The very beautiful cultivar of E. californicum "White Beauty" is
frequently available (it is usually incorrectly named E. revolutum, or even
called a hybrid, which it is not), and this is because it is a selection
which offsets relatively rapidly.  The obvious solution is to grow them
from seed, which is not at all difficult, if you can get the seed, but this
does not seem to be something the larger bulb growers are interested in
doing.  The Eastern Erythroniums like E. americanum and E. albidum increase
very readily, so may be more available from Eastern nurseries.  In
addition, the bulbs are easily damaged, and should never completely dry
out, making it more difficult to lift and store them for shipping, but
since this is also true of Fritillaria bulbs, I don't think this is the
reason that they are infrequently encountered in catalogues.

Seed is sometimes available from the Archibalds and from Ron Ratko at
Northwest Native Seeds.  It needs to be sown early in the fall for
germination, since in my experience, it has taken four months or longer for
it to germinate.  Fresh seed will have a very high germination rate, but
seed a year or two old will still perform fairly well if it is sown early
enough.  Beyond a year or two germination really falls off.

The Western Erythroniums can be split into two groups, those with mottled
leaves and those with plain leaves. The ones with mottled leaves are
generally considered the most beautiful, and certainly the leaves
themselves add greatly to their beauty.  In this group are the two most
sought after, E. revolutum (varying from pale lavender pink to very dark
pink) and E. hendersonii (pale pink with a deep purple throat).  E.
revolutum is blooming now in the area where I live.  The others in this
group include E. californicum (white or ivory), E. oregonum (very similar,
mostly white) and some others that appear somewhat similar to E.
californicum.  The plain leaved types include E. tuolumnense, and most of
these have somewhat smaller flowers that are yellow, but still very
attractive.  The really difficult ones are E. montanum and E. grandiflorum
since they are alpine, and do not adapt well to garden conditions.

I am growing E. multiscapoideum (both the Magalia and Pulga strains), E.
revolutum, E. californicum,  E. hendersonii, E. tuolumnense, E. oregonum,
and various selections of the above, all without any difficulty.  They are
well worth the wait from seed!

Diana Chapman
Telos Rare Bulbs"

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