Lachenalia mystery plant

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 07 Apr 2005 08:01:57 PDT

I am always surprised when people can identify a plant by only a few 
sentences when I struggle with a plant in front of me and several books and 
a key. Years ago Will Ashburner said he never assumed a plant was what it 
was named to be until he verified it. I have learned over the years that so 
many things I've grown from plant exchanges and sometimes even from what I 
consider reliable sources are sometimes wrong. It is easy enough to pass on 
the wrong name of a plant if you got it from someone you trusted who got it 
from someone they trusted who got it...Well you get the point. So I always 
try to verify my plants if I have time and I don't always find it easy. 
I've been working on a Romulea that the scrub jays have made more difficult 
by removing the original tag. In the case of Romulea you really need to 
look at the corm to be sure and I'm reluctant to dig it up since for a few 
hours every day when it is warm enough this plant is covered with open 
flowers and quite charming even though the flowers are small. Three or four 
days after I had given up and written down three possibilities I could 
check when I look at the corms when dormant another pot with a tag bloomed 
that looks exactly like the first one. Both of these are first bloom from 
seed and have different names. In this case I was pleased to see that the 
name of the second pot was one of the three I thought the first one could 
be. One is probably wrong unless their corms are different.

Even pictures sometimes can be misleading since you often have no idea of 
the size of anything.

There are Lachenalias with wavy leaves. Look at the pictures on the wiki 
that Bob took of ones that Alan Horstmann was growing. Lachenalia violacea 
can have wavy leaves. Lachenalia is a challenge to photograph since it is 
difficult to get both leaves and flowers in focus unless you are far enough 
away and then you can't see the detail very well. If you have Graham 
Duncan's book a lot of the pictures of the flowers look similar and the 
book don't always include leaves which could help I'm sure for the reasons 
I mentioned. One of the Lachenalia experts in our group has offered to help 
identify Rand's plant if he will put a picture on the wiki.

Chlorogalum usually blooms in the summer. It would be a bit early for it to 
bloom I'd think. It has a funny growth period, going dormant in the fall 
for a few months and then resuming growth when it starts raining again 
although you can accelerate that a bit by watering (like if you want 
someone to buy a plant at a plant sale that would otherwise not be in 
growth and therefore unlikely to be purchased.) I suppose that since Rand's 
plant is growing indoors that could change things. I've no idea what 
triggers it into flowering.

Mary Sue

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