Muscari and Bellevalia, was What is this bulb's name?

Jane McGary
Tue, 21 Apr 2009 08:59:05 PDT
Muscari paradoxum (note gender) has been a synonym of Bellevalia 
paradoxa. According to Brian Mathew's older book :Dwarf Bulbs", it is 
"smaller than the other two blue-flowered Bellevalia species" with 
"flowers in a short dense raceme, pale to deep blue, more or less 
bell-shaped with short perianth lobes edged with yellow." B. 
pycnantha does not have the yellow or white margins. It is a fairly 
stout plant.

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 into buying some because I thought it was a 
great bargain for B. pycnantha, which increases quite slowly.

There is also a plant that arrived here under the name Bellevalia 
dubia, which is very pretty and has a bicolored inflorescence with 
the upper (sterile) flowers brilliant blue. I have two Bellevalia 
species (or maybe just one) that have extremely long pedicels; one is 
called B. longistyla and I don't remember, offhand, what the other 
one is labeled. All of these are just starting to flower now -- 
they're a little later than most of the Muscari I have.

Dell asked about Bellevalia forniculata. Seed is usually available 
from the Archibalds. It takes a long time to grow to flowering size 
and doesn't increase vegetatively as far as I can see. It is indeed a 
beautiful "meconopsis blue," but (as with the Anemone biflora we 
discussed recently) there is the matter of scale: the individual 
flowers are rather small. It's an alpine plant of moist meadows, 
apparently, and I find it does best here in the lowlands grown in a 
raised but uncovered bed (Dell, that is the middle "frame" you saw 
here between the two ranges of covered frames). It might do better in 
the Rockies or eastern Canada.

I have a lot of trouble managing high-alpine bulbs, but am pleased to 
see Fritillaria cirrhosa looking quite good this year. I keep it on 
my covered deck in a plunged pot, rather dry in winter. F. 
camschatcensis is also good this year.

If you get a really huge Muscari with violet flowers, it may be M. 
dionysicum, which has appeared here and there under a couple of names 
in recent years.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

Jim wrote:
>         And this mystery plant I bought as Muscari paradoxa. The
>flowers heads are outrageous large -for a Muscari - deep dark blue
>and the plant over all is 'large ' - for a Muscari.  I am wondering
>if it is in fact a Bellevalia or is it B pycnantha?

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