When plants bloom

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Thu, 07 Jun 2007 17:20:54 PDT
Lauw de Jager asked,
The latestwintergrowing species flowering at this time of the year here are
>the Californiana  genera of Calochortus, Triteleia, Bloomeria, Brodeaia
>(with the Alliums flava, thunbergii, carinatum). ...
>Is there something specific in the Californian climate  which has evolved
>this late flowering caracteristic?

It seems to me that most of the western bulbs that flower late either are 
alpine (e.g., the low-growing Allium and Calochortus species) or have very 
tall scapes (e.g., almost all species of the genera Lauw mentions). The 
latter emerge through tall grasses or shrubs which may offer them some 
protection from browsing animals, but they also need to get their flowers 
up and available to pollinators. The grasses would perhaps not be high 
enough until late in the season. Most of these plants ripen their seed 
quite quickly, too, but it lies dormant in the soil until the fall rains.

Interestingly, some of these plants flower and ripen seed not only after 
the leaves have withered, but even after the stem becomes detached from the 
corm or bulb. Apparently there's enough moisture in the tall stem to 
support these functions.

Yesterday I was enjoying watching a pair of rufous hummingbirds darting 
around in the bulb frame (which is wide open this time of year) feeding off 
Dichelostemma ida-maia and some other members of the brodiaea alliance. 
They also visited other Dichelostemma species, but I haven't ever noticed 
hybrids here. In the garden, they particularly like Kniphofia and 
honeysuckle; they're very adaptable in terms of foreign cuisine.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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