Common Names

Jim McKenney
Sun, 11 Jan 2009 16:44:12 PST
Jim Waddick asked about the small, smelly fritillaries " 	Maybe I am
missing something, but surely there is a reason to grow these. Tell me."

OK, here's why I grow them: they're cool and you don't notice the smell
unless you've got your nose stuck up into them. Or at least I don't. Once
you're seen a couple of dozen of these blooming in all their marmoreal
variety on a sunny late March or early April day, with the sunlight
illuminating the dusky bowls and enhancing the fascinating veining and
checkering, you'll be a believer, too. They remind me of stained glass,
especially art nouveau Tiffany glass. Be sure to invite your friends over,
too, if only for the pleasure of hearing them say "I didn't think you could
grow those around here."

Skunk lily is also used, very appropriately according to my nose, for
Fritillaria imperialis. The bulbs of this one have a strong vulpine or
mustelid odor and thus really do live up to the name. I find this odor very
appealing. One often encounters the claim that they repel moles; if there is
any truth at all to this, it must apply to the immediate vicinity of the
plant. Most of us have trouble enough keeping a few of these going, so it's
hardly a practical exercise to rely on it for repelling moles. 

Here's an update on my 2008 Fritillaria imperialis/Fritillaria persica
experiment. I grew the plant in local soil heavily amended with ground
limestone. The bulbs were dug as soon as the foliage began to show signs of
ripening. After drying the bulbs in the shade for about two weeks, they were
wrapped individually in newspaper cocoons.  

The cocoons were unwrapped occasionally during the summer to allow me to
check the condition of the bulbs. The bulbs began to produce roots in
August; these roots grew to be about four inches long and then stopped. 

The bulbs were not planted back into the ground until sometime in November.
At that time they seemed to be heavy and in fine condition. 

To be continued...

Jim McKenney

More information about the pbs mailing list