Bulbs that flower without leaves--TOW

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sun, 03 Aug 2003 07:57:05 PDT
Dear All,

The topic this week was inspired by an unanswered question on another bulb 
list and that was which bulbs flower without leaves. This is a rather broad 
question since some have leaves that grow and are dying back when they 
flower. Some of these same bulbs in cultivation away from their native 
habitat may still have leaves when they flower because the conditions in 
cultivation are different (temperatures and more regular amounts of 
moisture for instance.) Others have a dormant period, then flower, and then 
produce leaves. Then there are even some interesting combinations like 
Gethyllis that flower in summer without leaves, with a fruit emerging from 
the ground in autumn before the leaves appear. I think it would be worth 
growing just to see that happen.

For the sake of this discussion let us focus on those plants that break 
dormancy with flowers first followed by leaves later. I think it is very 
helpful especially for beginners to know what the sequence is going to be 
so I hope to have a lot of help from everyone so we can come up with a list 
of species that show one of these patterns. Would someone volunteer to 
compile a list at the end of the week arranged alphabetically by genus and 
species so we will have all this information in one email? Normally this is 
the kind of thing that I would do, but I am really swamped.

We have already had "Naked Lady" sightings reported so I can start there:
Amaryllis belladonna
Lycoris squamigera

Can Kelly Irwin or Jim Waddick tell us if all the Lycoris species flower 
this way?

There are Gladiolus that flower on a leafless stalk and then later a single 
leaf is produced.
Gladiolus carmineus is one of them that blooms in the fall. Another that is 
blooming for me for the first time right now is Gladiolus monticola. It 
comes from a winter rainfall part of South Africa and blooms in the summer 
to fall. I understand there are populations on Table Mountain. It is pretty 
apricot color, very delicate, about 30-45 cm. (12-18 inches tall.) It is 
the only thing flowering in that raised bed of mine right now. Since a 
couple people wanted to see it when it bloomed I am adding the wiki link.
The leaf you see is an leaf of a Gladiolus that bloomed in June and hasn't 
died back all the way yet. We put a piece of cardboard behind it so the 
digital camera would focus better on the flower.

So add:
Gladiolus carmineus
Gladiolus monticola

I hope our Colchicum, Cyclamen and Crocus experts will tell us which 
species flower without leaves. Please everyone tells us about the bulbs 
that you grow that you have found to flower first followed by the 
appearance of their leaves.

Mary Sue
TOW Coordinator 

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