What's a Bulb?, was Re: chocolate scented bulbs

totototo@telus.net totototo@telus.net
Fri, 07 Jul 2006 10:05:41 PDT
On 7 Jul 06, at 14:31, Jacinda and Barry wrote:

> Good question re: orchids and what counts as bulbs and what doesn't. 
> Have always wondered this myself!

The terms "bulb", "tuber", "rhizome", and "corm" have rather precise 
definitions in botanical use, which you can unearth in any suitable 

Some plants are, as you would expect, problematic: various cyclamen 
species have roots on different faces of their whatevers so the genus 
as a whole presents a problem when it comes to classifying their 
storage organs. 

And many plants have fleshy roots that are none of these: peonies, 
for example.

The storage organs of some orchids are regularly referred to as 
"tubers", e.g. /Orchis/, but others are less certain. The "bulbs" of 
/Pleione/ are commonly referred to as "pseudobulbs".

So in spite of nomenclatural precision by the botanists, there are, 
as usual, gray areas and unclassifiable structures to keep us all 
amused and alert.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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