Romulea Mystery Plant

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 19 Feb 2004 21:51:24 PST
Dear All,

Since we have a lot of new members of our list, I'd like to refer you to 
our Mystery bulb page:…

There are a lot of pictures on that page that have been there a very long 
time. Can anyone help us figure them out?

I have added a mystery Romulea. Recently there was talk of misnamed 
pictures on the Internet and I think it is really easy to do if you have a 
plant from a trusted source and inadequate reference books to help you sort 
out whether the name is correct or not. This Romulea was first grown from 
Alpine Garden seed Joyce shared with me under the name Romulea linaresii. I 
never questioned it and even put a picture on the wiki labeled this (Ouch!) 
But I have since acquired The Smaller Bulbs by Brian Mathew and The World 
of Iridaceae (sorry Alberto, but it has information, perhaps wrong, but 
more than some of my other books on many irids). In those books I learned 
the flower is either 1.5cm long or 2-2.5cm long. Both say it has a violet 
throat. Mathew says the inner bract is papery and red spotted and the 
stamens overtop the style.

My plants have a orangy yellow throat, the style is even with the stamens 
and the inner bract is green with a membranous margin and the flower is 
bigger so it's not that.

Since all the R. bulbocodiums have the characteristic that the stigmas 
overtop the stamens, it can't be that.

The second batch of seed came from a NARGS seed exchange as Romulea 
ramiflora. It looks like the same plant to me and they both started 
flowering on the very same day! Mathew describes it as a rather 
unattractive tall species with small flowers. This is not a tall species 
and the flowers are much bigger than described and I think it is charming. 
Innes describes it as having externally greenish-yellow segments, but also 
with 3 bright violet longitudinal lines. Mine are greenish-yellow, but no 
lines. This book mentions a subsp. gaditana, syn. Romulea gaditana, syn. R. 
linaresii var. gaditana, syn. R. ramiflora var gigantea that has bigger 
flowers, but the throat is described as pale green and the outer segments 
green. Mine are not like that.

Looking on the IBS bulb gallery there is a picture that looks like mine 
taken by Dirk Wallace and labeled as R. nivalis. The size is right, the 
color is right according to Mathew (violet to lilac with a yellow throat) 
and the inner bract is right. But he describes the leaves as stiffly erect 
and short and these leaves are neither. My picture doesn't look like Tony 
Goode's picture of that species on the wiki. On the IBS site  and others 
there is a picture of a white flowered plant for this species and Bryan's 
Bulbs describes it as white tipped lilac, throat yellow, late spring. Innes 
describes this species as yellow throat, segments tipped bluish-violet with 
white area below and says it flowers from November to January (which isn't 
late spring.) This description sounds like Tony's picture. Phillips and Rix 
shows very erect leaves and the outside of the flowers which also look 

So, can anyone tell me what this plant really is? Robin, help. It is 
obviously making its way around the seed exchanges. It blooms quickly from 
seed and has been easy for me to grow. It was already getting pollinated as 
my picture shows and this was the first day it was open. I'll probably have 
some to share with the BX, but only if I know what it really is.

Thanks for any help.

Mary Sue

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