Milla biflora /Hymenocallis × spofforthiae 'Sulphur Queen'

Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 24 Jul 2004 10:20:48 PDT
Dear All,

This is my second year of bloom for Milla biflora, a white "star flower" 
cormous plant I obtained from Telos Rare Bulbs. The first year only one of 
my three corms bloomed and although I thought it was rather striking, it 
didn't last for more than three or four days. This year all three have 
bloomed and none of them at the same time so I've had an extended period to 
admire them. I kept them dry in winter and started watering in the spring 
and they have bloomed in June and July. I never moved my pot out of the 
greenhouse and I suspect my plants might have wanted more light since they 
seem taller this year.

I was reading about this genus in John Bryan's Bulbs and was surprised to 
see him list it in the Amaryllidaceae family since it has been recently 
moved to Themidaceae from Alliaceae and Bulbs of North America places it in 
Liliaceae so it must be another one of those that has made the rounds. I 
think the flower is very interesting, but also was surprised to see it 
described as sessile but appearing stalked. I measured the one in flower at 
the moment and what looks like a stalk to me measures 32 cm.(more that 12 
inches), where it branches for each flower and those branches are 15 cm. (6 
inches). Not all of that branch looks like it is a tube, but I suppose it 
could be. Even if you count the top part as a long tube, what would you 
call the part below. Could someone explain sessile in gardener's terms so I 
can understand it? I thought it meant no flowering stem or stalk like 
Trillium ovatum that sits directly on top of the leaves.

In Bulbs it says that this genus usually has 5-8 flowers and this species 
up to 7 flowers per stem. Bulbs of North America describes it as an open 
umbel of 2 to 6 flowers. Since one year I had plant with one flower and the 
second year two plants with one flower and one with two I am wondering if I 
can ever expect more flowers. As it gets bigger will there be more flowers 
does anyone think? Does anyone else grow this plant who can share their 

I think maybe Shawn Pollard has seen it in the wild when he lived in 
Arizona and can remember how many flowers it had. It is supposed to be 
fragrant and I thought maybe it was when I walked in the greenhouse and 
something smelled wonderful. What I smelled turned out to be Hymenocallis × 
spofforthiae 'Sulphur Queen' which was blooming at the same time. I'm 
really grateful to Jim McKenney for identifying the parentage of that plant 
as I've been a bit confused about what to call it. (I added his information 
to the wiki Hymenocallis page too since it seems like if it is a hybrid 
between two Hymenocallis species that is a logical place for it to be even 
though it is often sold as Ismene 'Sulphur Queen.' I got really close to 
the Milla but couldn't detect anything.

To see the pictures from this year of my Milla (looking down, in bud so you 
can decide whether you think it is sessile or not, and the wonderful green 
striped back) go to :…

Mary Sue
where it is 69 degrees F. (20.5 C.) at 10:00 a.m. in the middle of summer 
as the fog is lifting, but the overcast remains. Last measurable rainfall 
was in May.

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

More information about the pbs mailing list