Bellevalia pycnantha

Jane McGary
Mon, 31 Mar 2003 07:30:09 PST
For some years I've been growing Bellevalia pycnantha, originally from seed
purchased from the Archibalds. This is one of the more attractive members
of a genus (close to Muscari) otherwise known for muddy-colored flowers.
Its crowded flowers are very deep blue (I think of it as "navy blue"), with
a slight yellowish rim at the mouth of the florets.

Last fall I purchased some Dutch-grown bulbs under the same name and
planted them in the garden, hoping to have a good colony of this
Bellevalia, which I have found slow to increase. They also are flowering
now and are rather different from my older plants. The flowers are lighter
blue and have white, not yellow, rims. In addition, the new plants' leaves
lie flat on the ground, whereas the old plants' leaves are mostly erect.

I don't find any mention of the habit of the leaves in the descriptions of
the species available to me, only that they are channeled and longer than
the scape, which applies equally to both these forms (though the old plants
have leaves that are more noticeably channeled).

Is this just a case of normal variation within the species, the Dutch
growers having happened on a form that increases fast? Or are the bulbs
being marketed under this name botanically different - perhaps even a
hybrid with a Muscari, if that does occur? I hope that someone, perhaps
Lauw de Jager, can enlighten me.

It would also be interesting to learn the parentage of the lovely Muscari
'Valerie Finnis', if it is known. Or did it simply appear in her famous

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon

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