Scilla -TOW

Angelo Porcelli
Thu, 11 Dec 2003 05:39:25 PST
Dear group,

I would bring your attention on two very little know Scilla of south of Italy, from Sicily to be more correct. The first one is Scilla hughii, endemic of a small rocky island offshore western Sicily. This is very similar to Scilla peruviana and it's probably an adaptation to the condition of that island. It is larger than peruviana and it can be recognized from the reddish bracteoles at the base of the flower petioles (I wish I have used the right words in English). The second one is Scilla sicula and this come from inland Sicily. Also this is similar to peruviana, but it has leaves bordered with a well visible line of white hair (i.e. like Haemanthus albiflos) which makes it unmistakeable, while flowers are a paler blue. Both are very nice plants, perfectly suited to Mediterranean climate (Scilla sicula is surely hardy in zone 8), but alas rare and endangered plants. There's another species under study now, Scilla dimartinoi, which is endemic of another small island midway Sicily and north Africa, but this seems to be just a form of Scilla sicula for some authors. Another small Scilla from Sicily is Scilla cupanii, which is instead related to Scilla autumnalis and thus not wonderfully attractive, unless you love dwarf plants !
All these species can be seen in photo on the webpages of the University of Catania, but I don't remember the link now. Just, make a search with Google, typing the species and it will hit them.
In my area (Apulia) there's the Scilla maritima, aka Urginea, which is an imposing presence in the wild landscapes (where they still exist !) and I know several of you enjoy growing it. If I will find a bit of time to wander around, I would like to take some photos of massive clumps of Urginea of 10+ bulbs, each exceeding 30cm across ! Indeed the best time to show these plants is when the leaves are died, so that the clumps is visible.
From the giants to the dwarfs, the diminutive Scilla autumnalis can be spotted on only when in flower and one has to have a sharp eye, however ! Otherwise, it will look just like grass.
Scilla hyacinthoides is also present here and there occasionally, but this is not a true native species, as it has naturalized from old age, probably brought in from the Middle East from the Crusadres.

Angelo Porcelli

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