Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Mon, 26 May 2003 22:30:12 PDT
Dear All,

This is part 2 of my introduction.

The species can be grown from seed started in the fall. Dichelostemma 
ida-maia has the reputation for being the most challenging from seed and 
may benefit from a wide range of temperatures between day and night for 
success. Most of them can also be propagated from the offsets that are 
produced around the corms. They grow during the winter rainy season and 
then bloom as the days get dry and warmer as their leaves start to shrivel. 
They go dormant in summer and do not sprout again until after it starts to 
rain in the late fall. As they are found in a wide range of elevations in 
nature, species grown from wild seed may be of different degrees of hardiness.

Dichelostemma capitatum, D. congestum, and D. multiflorum all grow in areas 
that get very cold as well as in areas not as cold so one would suspect 
that by choosing the origin of the seed you could grow hardier types. D. 
capitatum can be found in wet and dry areas as well. Luckily Ron Ratko 
sells wild collected seed and in his catalog usually includes a description 
of the plant, the soil type and habitat where it was found, and the elevation.

Glenn Keator recommends light shade for D. ida-maia, and D. congestum. I 
never could get D. ida-maia to bloom until Jim Robinett told me that on the 
coast I should plant it in my hottest spot. Once I moved it to the sunny 
deck it has bloomed every year. But not every one blooms. Since many years 
the leaves have withered or are withering by flowering time I think most of 
them can be more attractive planted in the ground and allowed to bloom 
around other things. Most have a reputation for not tolerating wet soils 
when they are dormant, especially in areas with hot temperatures. As 
Alberto points out this may not be true. On the other hand I can testify 
that they can survive without any summer water. It was interesting to read 
from Alberto that he has green leaves with blooms because he has more 
regular rain. We've had late rains here although I think we are done now 
and I have watered a little and the leaves are still drying up although the 
flowers are fine.

I have seen D. volubile in the wild, but not yet have gotten it to bloom. I 
started some from seed in the fall of 1999 and would have expected it to 
bloom by now. Maybe next year. Jane says it is found in seeps so maybe I 
just need to plant it out in a low part of my garden since I certainly get 
the rain where I live. It hasn't been nearly as vigorous as the others for 
me. Besides D. ida-maia which is so striking, I think D. multiflorum is my 
favorite. It is a really handsome plant and a good cut flower. Years ago I 
planted D. congestum in a part of my garden where I had a patch of clay. I 
just wanted to see if something that was normally found in clay would like 
growing in clay. It bloomed the first year just fine, but the second year 
the deer found it and it was slow dwindle from there and I haven't seen any 
lately. I have enough offsets now to make some new trials in other parts of 
my garden that are decomposed sandstone.

Hopefully Alan Meerow will respond to Mark's question about the changed 
family. Taxonomy is not my strength. But I will quote from "Consider the 
Lilies" by Dean G. Kelch in the most current Fremontia (journal of the 
California Native Plant Society.) Kelch is a PhD research associate of the 
University and the Jepson Herbaria of UC Berkeley.

"Several characters can be used to distinguish Alliaceae from Themidaceae. 
While Alliaceae have a pair of bracts that encloses the flower buds, 
Themidaceae have several bracts that do not enclose the young flowers. 
Alliaceae have a true bulb (composed of swollen leaf bases) with a 
membranous coat, but the storage organ in Themidaceae is a corm (composed 
of stem tissue.) Most, if not all, Themidaceae lack the onion odor."
Although he sites references, many of them are older ones and he writes 
that he is preparing us for the changes to Liliaceae so perhaps the 
research articles are still to come.

Mary Sue

P.S. I see that before I finished writing this Alan has indeed furnished 
the references.

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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