Sternbergia lutea again

Angelo Porcelli
Thu, 09 Sep 2004 12:03:10 PDT
> Dear  Sternbergia friends ,
> Here is a little report from South West Germany :
> On this time flowering by me ( in my bulbframe ) :
> Sternbergia lutea ( f. sicula ) coll. by me from Apulia / Italy ,
> I have send seeds from this plants to Dell before some days for the BX.
> >From my other Sternb. lutea ( coll. by me from Sardinia ) only leaves,
> plants always comes later ( grows free in my garden).
> My last Sternbergia ( clusii ) coll. from the Island of Samos, is always
> last - flowering in October or November ( (they grows free in my garden ).
> Also flowering on this time : Narcissus serotoninus ( Apulia ) and
> ( roseum , autumanalis , valentinum )
> Best wishes
> Johann
> Zone 7a
> D - 77972 Mahlberg
> Germany


Dear Johann,

Sternbergia sicula isn't considered a true species from some Italian
botanists and in this case your expression S.lutea sicula would be more
correct. But if so, this doesn't occur in Apulia, were you collected yor
samples (do you remember the place, maybe?) but in Sicily and Greece. This
is even more curious, because the S.lutea is well present in all Apulia but
rare if nonexistent in the nearby regions of South of Italy (Basilicata,
Calabria) which are the geographic connection between Apulia and Sicily. So,
why the infamous S.sicula doesn't occur in Apulia is a mystery. Another
observation now. Iris pseudopumila is a dwarf bearded iris endemic of Apulia
and Sicily only, that is not present in the forementioned other regions. So
this species shares roughly the same distribution of S.lutea in the South of
Italy. Why it is not present in those regions is again obscure. Indeed,
there's a reason, or better this is my guess. Apulia and Sicily share the
same habitat of stony open grasslands, where both Iris and Sternbergia grow,
while the other regions have more mountains and having more woodlands, these
habitats aren't good for those plants. Also, Apulia is comparatively drier
than the western regions of the same latitudes and thus more rich in
geophyte flora.
Back on Sternbergia, the sicula should differ in having pointed tepals and a
lighter green to silver line on the middle of the leaf. But again this is
not a consistent feature, because I have observe many times plants with
pointed tepals and all have a more or less evident lighter median line.
It is more reasonable to think that some population of Sicily and Greece
grow in a more xeric habitat and have developed these features as fruit of
the 'best fit' for that habitat and for these even and S.angustifolia is
known, that is a form with even narrower leaves. This presumible form is
often considered and hybrid between sicula and lutea and in the better of
the cases it would be an interspecific hybrid, otherwise a cross between two
forms or at worst just an extreme form of only one species.
It is also said to be sterile, but I have some friends in Northern Italy
which complain that their Sternbergia lutea don't set any seed. So, as this
angustifolia form is often cultivated in northern countries such UK or
France, I wouldn't be so surprise to see they don't set seed for the less
suitable climate.
Just to add further food for thoughts, in some small rocky islands offshore
Sicily occurs Pancratium angustifolium, a little known species which
differes from P.maritimum in having narrower leaves. It's easy to understand
that this is a result of the rocky habitat instead of the sandy one of the
normal maritimum.
This topic would need better explanations but this is what I can do with my
English, sorry.


P.S. Is Narcissus serotoninus used to cure depression ? Apologise for the
stupid joke :-)

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