Mary Sue Ittner
Fri, 30 Jan 2004 08:02:28 PST
Dear Jim,

I am interested in your Scoliopus halli. I didn't know there was another 
species until I read about it in Bulbs of North America as a plant that 
grows in Oregon and is found in cool moist sites in forests with rapidly 
draining acid soils. It is smaller than Scoliopus bigelovii which is native 
to where I live and not very big (tepals 14 to 20 mm.) So it must be really 
small. I am curious how you are growing it in Maryland and also interested 
in knowing if any others on this list are growing Scoliopus. Did you grow 
it from seed? Does it get watered year round? Does it increase?

Bulbs of North America describes this genus as growing from short 
underground stems with numerous fleshy storage roots. Perhaps when this 
plant is in growth it has fleshy storage roots, but if you've ever looked 
at it when it was dormant, it is almost impossible to find and fleshy would 
not be what I'd call the very thin roots. In fact I'd be hard pressed to 
call it a bulb or a geophyte for that matter, but I'm still happy to talk 
about it.

I find it very difficult in cultivation. I've gotten fresh seed to 
germinate if I planted the seed while is was still moist right out of the 
pod and kept the pot moist until it germinated, but I have a hard time 
getting it to come back. Reading that growth is really rapid from seed 
hasn't been my experience. I planted one out from a CNPS sale one fall in 
my garden and it did come up that first year, but that was the end of it. A 
friend dug one up for me a couple of years later and I left it in a 
container. It bloomed the first year and then dwindled away. Hers she 
planted out in her woods not far from where she found the others didn't 
last either. A man who grew it I didn't know said at an out of town CNPS 
function it had to be kept absolutely dry during dormancy, but I didn't 
really believe it as it is often found in wet places that I suspect since 
they are shaded, retain moisture a very long time. So I occasionally give 
mine a drink as a compromise. I have five pots and I thought they were all 
gone, but one just showed signs of life so maybe there still is a chance 
with the others. My gut says maybe I'd do better if I watered more instead 
of less.

This is one of the earlier spring wildflowers on California's north coast. 
Most of my hiking buddies are not in the least interested in botanical 
names and they all love the name "fetid adders tongue" even though I have 
never detected an unpleasant odor and if there is one you'd have to get 
very close to the ground to smell it. Jim's picture nicely captures the 
reason it is also called "slink pod". I'd love to grow it more successfully 
so would be happy for any advice.
If I can't however, I'll still delight each spring when I see it in the 
forest. I like the spotted broad leaves, find the little flowers very 
beautiful and like the way the pods fall over.

Mary Sue

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