totototo@telus.net totototo@telus.net
Fri, 13 Apr 2007 10:18:50 PDT
On 13 Apr 07, at 1:25, DaveKarn@aol.com wrote:

> ...a large clump of Albert Castillo... did not appear one spring
> after having been a mass of flowers the previous years.  I
> despaired at having lost something that had considerable value to
> me because of the source.  Then, inexplicably, the patch showed up
> again a year later as if nothing had happened and just as
> floriferous as ever.  Go figure! 

A possible explanation is implicit in what follows:

I have the tetramerous form of the bright yellow "Beauverdia 
sellowiana", aka "Ipheion sellowianum", now considered (iirc) 
Nothoscordum sellowianum. As this also came to me from Don Elick, now 
many years ago, I value it greatly. I have always kept it out of 
doors with only slight winter protection, at best a covered coldframe.

One winter ten or fifteen years ago, we had a serious cold spell, as 
we sometimes get thanks to outflows through river valleys of icy 
Arctic air from the interior of the continent. My poor Beauverdia/ 
Ipheion/Nothoscordum got caught in it and froze quite solid. [Memory 
fails me, but I think I either had forgotten to cover the coldframe 
or had left the pot simply sitting out in the open, possibly with 
overhead protection from rain.]  

The plant stopped growing. For some years, every spring I would unpot 
it and examine the tubers. The larger ones (size of a garden pea) 
remained sound, while the smaller ones gradually disappeared. But 
there was no active growth whatsoever.

No foliage, no root development, year after year. As everyone reading 
can imagine, despair reigned, as the bulbs were irreplaceable.

Somewhere on the internet, I ran across a mention of the importance 
of warmth to South American amaryllids and decided to experiment. I 
had nothing to lose the way things were going with fewer bulbs left 
every year. I took the pot into the house and put it by a large south-
facing window where it would bake in full sun nearly all day long and 
the soil would warm up much more than outside. (Remember that we have 
quite cool summers here -- air temperature over 70F is unusual and 
cause for the population shedding all the clothes the law allows, or 
even more.)

The experiment was a success and the Beauverdia/Ipheion/Nothoscordum 
started to grow actively. Ever since I have been careful to give it 
winter protection from sub-freezing temperatures and it remains 
actively alive, though it doesn't flower all that often.

I speculate (emphasis on *speculate*) that this plant is native to a 
fairly warm climate, that when exposed to serious cold it goes 
dormant and the dormancy can only be broken by exposure to warmth -- 
70F being insufficient.

A patch of a wild ipheion (or relative!) that goes dormant for a 
season then returns in full vigor after a year below ground may 
simply be reacting to a spell of unusually cold weather in a normally-
warm climate.

One infers that the native habitat, though warm, has infrequent 
spells of much colder weather than normal, and this behavior is an 
evolutionary adaptation allowing survival through short periods 
(several years even) of lower temperatures than normal.

I await comments from Alberto Castillo on the subject.

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

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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