diana chapman rarebulbs@earthlink.net
Thu, 29 May 2003 07:30:35 PDT
Hi Mary Sue:

Even though D. capitatum is so common in California, I think it is one of
the most charming species.  I had a small pot crammed full of bulbs that I
used to bring up on the deck when it was in bloom, and it would continue
blooming for weeks.  The shorter stature makes it easier to use also for
container culture.

I remember reading the article but my things are still in storage.  I have
commented before that the many offsets that are produced by some California
species don't sprout unless detached.  You can dig a bulb that has as many
as 20 offsets, but above ground only the main bulb produces a leaf.  I think
the article stated that the patch where the bulbs were dug and harvested
actually increased in number, since the offsets, being detached, sprouted.

I, with the help of a fourteen year old Native American boy, tried digging
some bulbs on the reservation.  What a job!!  All I can say is those folks
in the old days must have spent a LOT of time getting enough bulbs to eat.
I have baked them (they do develop a sweet flavor that way) and boiled them
also.  The boiled bulbs have less flavor.

The western species of Dichelostemma, Brodiaea and Triteleia all have a
reputation for producing zillions of offsets.  They don't all do this.  I
even have one population of  D. capitatum that produces very few offsets.
Most of the Brodiaeas I grow produce few offsets, not enough to vegetatively
propagate them that way.  Some Triteleias do and some don't.  The commercial
strains of all of these species tend to be the ones that reproduce
vegetatively very energetically, often earning them the reputation of being
"weedy", but this isn't really typical.

Telos Rare Bulbs

Original Message -----
From: "Mary Sue Ittner" <msittner@mcn.org>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2003 6:55 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Dichelostemma--TOW

> Dear All,
> A number of year ago I remember reading an interesting study in Fremontia
> about Dichelostemma capitatum. I have searched everywhere for it, but I
> must not have kept it. I am afraid to trust my memory on this so accept
> this as only a memory which may have been distorted over
> time.  Dichelostemma capitatum was a major food source for Native
> Americans. In a book I have for plants used by Indians of my county it is
> listed as being eaten raw, but sweeter when cooked in ashes. Since it
> offsets a lot each year they would dig them up, take the larger ones and
> replant the smaller ones. This system worked very well.
> They were discouraged from continuing to do this by the settlers. In the
> article someone had decided to do an experiment many years later. Not
> able to use them as food had been a great hardship and this person was
> interested in determining who was correct about whether digging them would
> hurt the bulb population. They were grown for a number of years (I can't
> remember how long). In one bed they were left to grow and in the other
> were removed and the little one replanted as the Indians would have
> done.  At the end of the experiment both plots were dug up and  then
> of bulbs counted. Now for the results I really need the article. What my
> recollection is was that there was a big increase in both populations and
> that digging them had not been a detriment at all and maybe even
> contributed to a healthy population. Does anyone else who might be a CNPS
> member remember reading this article and have it handy?
> Are Alberto, Jane, Lauw, Diana, and I the only ones growing this genus?
> (And Doug Westfall who has a picture on the wiki). Anyone else willing to
> share your experiences?
> Mary Sue
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