Not TOW - Gymnospermium

Jane McGary
Wed, 19 Feb 2003 15:43:10 PST
Gymnospermium is indeed an interesting addition to the winter bulb
collection. G. albertii, mentioned by other correspondents, is the one most
commonly grown. I have two others that were identified as different species
by the seed collectors -- G. altaicum and G. sylvaticum. They are all very
similar, and I suspect that at least some botanists consider them
conspecific. Seed sellers, however, often take the most "splitting" route
in order to interest their customers!

I grow them in the bulb frame because they emerge so early; they are
certainly cold-hardy but would be spoiled by the heavy rains here. I
suppose that they emerge later in their native haunts. They set plenty of
seed, which is quite curious in form -- it looks like tiny bottles. The
seed has a fleshy appendage that attracts ants, which carry the seeds here
and there, dropping them after eating the "good part." The remainder
produces seedlings quite some distance from the parent. You have to watch
carefully for the seed to ripen, because it drops and disappears rather

These plants can be increased, as far as I know, only by seed; the tuber
does not multiply. They flower in the third year from sowing. The foliage
is very ornamental but withers by mid-June here.

Jane McGary
NW Oregon

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