Colchicum soboliferum/Merendera sobolifera

Jim McKenney
Sun, 16 Mar 2008 10:19:04 PDT
Yesterday I reported the flowering of an odd little plant which was
obviously a Colchicum of the Mernedera sort. At that time I though it might
be C. trigynum (M. trigyna). 

Today that little plant did something new, and in doing so provided a near
certain clue as to its identity.

When I went out to look at it today, the flower had fallen over and seemed
to be falling apart.  When I got down on my hands and knees and looked
closely, I saw something very strange: the tepals of the flower were
connected only at what yesterday was their base; the seeming tube below the
flower had seemingly shredded into threads of tissue still connected at both
the flower end and the bulb end. 

Now I knew I was on to something, Instinctively, I gently pulled the tepals
apart – and with a slight tug they came apart, still attached to the long
thread which connected them to their bulb.

At this point I knew what I had: it’s Colchicum sololiferum (Merendera
sobolifera), a late-winter/spring blooming species which has little hooks
which keep the tepals together at the point where they reflex into the open
flower. In typical Merendera fashion, these tepals have no tube above the
ovary. However, this species seems to have rethought the family plan and
devised a way of temporarily having a tube: the little hooks keep the tepals
together when the flower first opens.

So today instead of a two inch flower which looks like a skinny-tepaled
crocus about to go over, I have a form less tangle of three inch threads
flopping on the ground. 

It’s no beauty, but it’s certainly interesting. 

My only regret is that I did not photograph the hooks before I unhooked it.

I’m still not sure how it got where it is, although when newly received the
corm was a three pronged affair  which suggested a cluster of Gloriosa corms
– these are obviously built for travel underground. Gloriosa by the way is a
close Colchicum relative. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
7, where last night in the rain there must have been thousands of spring
peepers calling: en masse they sound oddly like sleigh bells.
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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