flower color in Eranthis 'Guinea Gold' and Freesia viridis

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Wed, 19 Mar 2008 09:33:32 PDT
Little Freesia viridis is in bloom this morning, and it’s teaching me an
interesting lesson. 

In the Eranthis ‘Guinea Gold’ thread, several commentators have mentioned
that ‘Guinea Gold’ was said to have bronze-colored foliage. I went out and
checked my ‘Guinea Gold’ (which one side of me wants very much to be true to
name), and the best I can do with the foliage I saw was to describe some of
it as perhaps olive green. Bronze is sometimes described as yellowish-brown,
and that’s close to olive green.  Does that mean that my plant is true to
name? It’s easy to have doubts, especially when there is a lacuna in the
tradition (or a lapsus on the label), and given all of the monkey business
going on, it’s good to have doubts. But it’s also good to have a broad
perspective in order to be aware of what the possibilities are. 

When Freesia viridis bloomed last year, the flowers were chartreuse green.
The base of the flower was paler green, the sort of color seen in Gladiolus
tristis. The distal third of the flower was greener.  

This year’s flowers are different. The distal portions of the flower are as
green as those seen last year, but the basal two thirds of the flower is
maroon. This makes a very handsome color contrast. I’ve uploaded images to
the wiki so you can see this difference. Take a look at:


I have only one plant of Freesia viridis: in other words, chameleon-like
this plant has changed its colors from one year to the next. The plant grows
in a protected cold frame. 

I call this one, in the tradition of all the great nomina nuda (not to be
confused with nominal nudists), Freesia viridis var. inconstans  forma
aphidophora.  :  ) 

In a related post, Debbi expressed her admiration (which I enthusiastically
share) of Janis Ruksans, and went on to say that if Ruksans says he has
never seen a bulb of ‘Guinea Gold’, then she’ll believe him. If he said
that, then I’ll believe it, too. But if it’s true, I’m inclined to say that
it brings into doubt his qualifications for speaking with authority on the
identity of the plant. I think it would behoove us to be more interested in
the opinions of those whose connections with the real plant are more

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
7, where Dracunculus vulgaris is over a foot out of the ground. 
My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
BLOG! http://mcwort.blogspot.com/
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/

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