Colchicum questions

Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 30 May 2005 19:44:16 PDT

As more and more people look to the PBS wiki as an authority I find it a 
bit of a challenge knowing which names we should be using to identify our 
plants. In the past I've heard people complain about all the incorrect 
information that can be found on the Internet and am much more sympathetic. 
We have discussed before that many of us are gardeners, not taxonomists and 
we know the plants by the names that were attached to them when we acquired 
them. Since there is not agreement even among the experts and there are 
constant changes, some accepted and some not, even if you have a set of 
reference books you trust, it is not simple. With that background I'd like 
to share with you some questions I sent to Jane McGary, Arnold 
Trachtenberg, and John Lonsdale. We have Colchicum pictures from the three 
of them that I am puzzled about. Jane has said I could share her answers 
with the group.
She writes:
"Mary Sue had a number of questions about nomenclature in Colchicum. My 
understanding is that this genus is presently undergoing a rather massive 
revision. A number of new species have been named by Karen Persson (not 
sure of spelling of her name), and I heard a couple of years ago that 
Christopher Brickell was planning a monograph. Thus, it's not likely that 
we can put "real" names on all the photos that are on the wiki. I'd suggest 
that most of them be left with the names the contributors have for them, 
with remarks added that nomenclature of a given species, or complex, is 
presently under study, and that names are much confused in cultivation."

There are still a few questions I need help with and I thought some of you 
might find Jane and Arnold's answers interesting so I am including them. 
The answer is from Jane unless indicated otherwise. If any of you can help 
with this I'd appreciate it.

1. We have two pictures, one from Jane and one from John of C. boissieri. 
We also have a picture from Arnold of C. procurrens that some of my sources 
say is a synonym for this. Should Arnold's picture be renamed and put with 
the others?
ANSWER : The plants that I'm growing under these two names appear distinct 
to me, though they have obvious similarities such as a peculiar corm shape. 
Arnold may have received C. procurrens from me.

Could either of you provide text to explain about C. procurrens?

2. We have a number of pictures of Colchicum cupanii and subspecies of the 
same. I can't find much about these subspecies. Can you provide any 
information? Should we list the pictures of C. cupanii ssp. glossophyllum 
under C. cupanii or C. glossophyllum?

ANSWER : This is one of the really confusing groups. I would keep these two 
separate for now. In particular, the name C. cupanii seems to be applied in 
cultivation to two very different plants, both of which I'm growing. What I 
have as C. glossophyllum is distinct from either in its flowering time, if 
not in other particulars. Brickell (in the AGS Encyclopaedia of Alpines) 
regards glossophyllum as a subspecies of cupanii.

As an example of how people use our wiki I found this:…
This man discusses Jane's picture and even links to it.

3. Colchicum major I can't find, but I can find Colchicum autumnale 
'Major'. Is there a species major or is this a cultivar of another species 
and should be moved?
ANSWER: I haven't seen this as a valid name anywhere. The pictured plant 
could be C. autumnale, which is described as "occasionally tessellated."

Anyone else know of a C. major or think that Arnold's picture is of 
Colchicum autumnale 'Major'?
4. Colchicum pannonicum has a note written next to it by Jim McKenney I 
suspect saying that this plant is now regarded as a clonal selection of C. 
autumnale and has the cultivar name 'Nancy Lindsay'. Should we change it or 
is that note sufficient?

ANSWER: I would leave the note, because apparently there are several of 
these purple-tubed C. autumnale forms around, and I'm told the form is 
common in the wild in certain areas. Probably not all such plants are the 
clone 'Nancy Lindsay', though many of them probably are.

 From Arnold: "C. pannonicum named for Pannonia which is an ancient name 
for  what is now part Hungary. Mathew say in his Bulb Newsletter that it is 
"so similar that they could be part of the same clone as 'Nancy Lindsay'. 
He also says it is a 'plant very much like C. autumnale'  Chris Brickell, 
in his account of Colchicum for Flora Europaea, decided to sink the species 
into C. autumanale.

Mathew says " So,  unless new field studies of the colchicums in this area 
indicate otherwise, the situation is that the excellent plant which is 
being distributed as C. pannonicum appears to be a very nice color variant 
of the very widespread C. autumnale."

5. Colchicum sibthorpii my sources say should be C. bivonae. Would you look 
at Arnold's pictures and let me know if they need to be renamed.

No answer to this last question. Can anyone help?

Mary Sue

More information about the pbs mailing list