Weedy tulips was T. sprengeri - T sylvestris

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 03 May 2003 07:14:47 PDT
Jim Waddick  wrote:
>Tulipa sylvestris. This is a highly 
>stoloniferous shade loving yellow flowering tulip. It tends to make a 
>lot of foliage that doesn't bloom, but enough flowers to make it 
>	I suspect there are not a lot of shade loving stoloniferous 
>tulips around.

I realize that where I live, we tend to grow in the sun a lot of plants
that people in North American east of the Rocky Mountains grow in the shade
(e.g., hellebores). Tulipa sylvestris is one of them, and it blooms very
well here in full sun and does not spread widely.

I don't know whether it really likes shade in places with harsher summers,
or whether Jim was misled by its species name, sylvestris, which can mean
"of woodlands" but has also been attached more generally to plants that
grow in uncultivated ground. According to Oleg Polunin's "Flowers of Greece
and the Balkans," its habitats are "field verges, hillsides, and rocky
slopes," where it may be growing among shrubs but certainly not necessarily
in shade.

Perhaps its stoloniferous spreading is an attempt to get into the sun!

There are many plants, not a few of them geophytes, that tolerate shade but
flourish better once the shade has been removed, usually by fire. Anyone in
a Mediterranean climate has seen this in the wild in the burst of flowering
after brush or forest fires. Because many of these plants multiply
vegetatively when shaded, people (such as botanists and visitors from other
countries) who see them in the wild only in that state go back home and
write them up as "shade-loving," and people read their books, plant the
subjects in the shade, and then wonder why they don't flower very well.

A classic example is Iris tenuis, the only Pacific Coast representative of
the Evansia (Cristatae) section, a rhizomatous iris. Native to a very small
range near where I live, it forms large, mostly non-flowering colonies in
the woods, but blooms heavily along roadsides and under a power line where
the trees are constantly removed. Many Pacific Coast irises (Californicae)
also flower better in sun even though they can grow in shade.

I think it's almost always better to call such plants "shade-tolerant"
rather than "shade-loving." There are, of course, plants that require shade
in summer here; many of them seem to be from east Asia or the U.S.
southeast, and I think what kills them in sun is drying out in our summers,
when there is little atmospheric humidity.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon. USA

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