Muscari and Bellevalia, was What is this bulb's name?
Tue, 21 Apr 2009 13:30:18 PDT
On 21 Apr 2009, at 8:59, Jane McGary wrote:

> A Muscari hybrid is being sold by Dutch growers under the name Bellevalia
> pycnantha. It is obviously not that plant, and it's invasive. I got
> cheated... 

Why does this not surprise me?

A word of warning to all other bulb lovers: if you buy Dutch bulbs, do not take 
on faith the name on the package! You have to pretend to be from Missouri, the 
"show me" state. Assume all such names are pleasant fictions until the bulbs 
flower and are then carefully vetted against reliable descriptions.

This endemic dishonesty in the Dutch bulb trade is no new thing. If you dig 
around in AGS bulletins from ca. 1950, you'll find complaints about misnamed 
Dutch bulbs then. Where is the distribution network the presto-change-o 
switcheroo happens is unknown, but I've observed that the junk you get always 
has a superficial resemblance to the Real Thing: buy a purplish or bluish 
cultivar of Crocus biflorus/chrysanthus, and you will get a purplish or bluish 
crocus, but look out! It may be the weedy C. tommasinianus. I suspect the 
substitution takes place where the bulbs are packaged.

We bulb enthusiasts are at a disadvantage because most Dutch bulbs are bought 
by, at best, weekend gardeners who neither notice nor care that they've been 
cheated. We enthusiasts simply don't have the power of numbers. However, in 
most places the law puts the onus on retail sellers to make good mislabellings 
of any sort, so if you are steamed over such substitutions, simply dig up the 
interlopers and mail them back to the source with a demand for a full refund, 
including postabe both ways. It doesn't matter who did the substitution: you 
were sold mislabelled goods, and if it wasn't the retailer's fault, he has a 
legal comeback against *his* supplier.

Diseased bulbs are another feature of the Dutch bulb trade. Especially 
devastating can be ink spot disease of reticulate irises. In former years when 
I actually bought these, I'd peel off the bulb tunics, carefully exise fungal 
sclerotia from the bulb proper with a razor blade, dust the wounds with sulfur, 
and then plant the bulbs in a quarantine pot until the next summer, whereupon 
I'd decant them and repeat the process.

I no longer buy Dutch reticulate irises, however, because the risk of 
destroying my healthy stands of Iris winogradowii and Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin' 
are too great.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island…

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