Sternbergia lutea

Jane McGary
Mon, 17 Nov 2008 11:49:36 PST
Jim Waddick wrote

>         A friend just sent me a copy of this recent article "A
>Morphometric Study of Species Delimitation in Sternbergia lutea
>(Alliaceae, Amaryllidoideae) and its Allies S. sicula and S.
>greuterian"  by Ewan Gage  and Paul Wilkin published in the Botanical
>Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 158, 460-469
>         "This research has highlighted a lack of distinctive
>characters by which S. sicula, S. lutea and S. greuteriana can be
>         The authors assert all Sternbergia belong to a single species
>and suggest that cultivar names be assigned to horticulturally
>distinct subjects.
>         Doesn't fit my limited experience with a few very distinctive
>bulbs.  Comments ?

At one time Alan Meerow was doing a DNA study of Sternbergia. Has 
anything come of that?

I'm quite prepared to believe that S. lutea and S. sicula are just 
forms of one species. They are said to frequent different habitats 
(S. sicula in poor soils on steep slopes, and S. lutea in richer 
soils on ledges and in flats), but I did see S. lutea clinging to a 
steep slope in at least one place, and in cultivation they seem 
minimally distinctive.

S. greuteriana is a different matter, to me, because it produces 
stolons from the bulb. These have even run out of the fine-mesh pot I 
have it in in the bulb frame, to form bulbs in the surrounding plunge 
medium. It also flowers well before the others.

Then there is a fourth entity, which I grew from seed as S. lutea but 
it is apparently the very small form of that species reported from 
Crete. It looks like a half-sized lutea, and I'm not certain but I 
think it may produce stolons. It flowers later than "greuteriana" and 
the tepals are a different shape.

All of these characteristics are the kind of thing that is important 
to gardeners and "traditional" botany. Since the study Jim mentions 
is morphometric, not genetic, it is surprising that it did not find 
distinctive characters.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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