Recent Romulea discussion

Robin Attrill
Sun, 23 Mar 2003 14:05:41 PST

The recent discussion arising from the mystery Romulea raises a few points.

Firstly, I agree with Alberto that R. minutiflora is the most likely
identity (although diminutive plants of the polyploid R pratensis can be
rather similar in appearance). This is one of the few really weedy species
(apparently extensively naturalised in Australia) and is, in my view, not to
be recommended for general cultivation as there are so many better plants in
the genus.

Secondly, it reinforces the wisdom of a skeptical approach to labels on
packets of seed. I have found that a substantial majority of the Romulea
that I have obtained from seed exchanges over the years have been
incorrectly named, with R minutiflora a frequent 'imposter'. Commercial
sources are not always a lot better, particularly in the UK, where one of
the more respected operations provided me with seed of 'R sabulosa' that
turned out to be Freesia viridis!!!  Having said that, Jim Archibald,
Silverhill, Rust-en-Vrede and Gordon Summerfield are four sources that I
have found to be generally very reliable.

Thirdly, I was interested in Alberto's comment regarding the Innes book (The
World of Iridaceae), which, until the advent of IPNI, was the most
accessible source of  Iridaceae synonomy information etc to those who did
not have ready access to a botanical library. Whilst it has its faults - it
was intended to stimulate interest (see the closing paragraph of the
foreward) and never aimed at being a definitive cultivation guide - I
certainly can think of a large number of contenders for the 'worst book on
bulbs' title, and this would not be one of them! Perhaps 'Worst Bulb Book'
could be a topic of the week, albeit one that could lead to

Finally, for keys to European Romulea the ISBN number of the
Mathew/Grey-Wilson title 'Bulbs - The bulbous plants of Europe and their
allies' is 0 00 219211 X, and there is also a key in vol 5 of Flora Europea.

Best wishes

Robin Attrill

More information about the pbs mailing list