colchicum byzantinum & friends

Jane McGary
Tue, 06 Oct 2009 09:52:47 PDT
John Flintoff wrote,
>???? Hopefully Chris Brickell will eventually publish his 
>horticultural monograph of colchicums and Karen Pearson at the 
>Gothenberg BC will summarize her extensive work in a comprehensive paper.

I think the Swedish botanist's name is spelled Karin Persson. She has 
named a great many new species, mostly from Greece and the Balkans, 
in recent years, which in my opinion will not help to clear up the 
confusion. I heard from someone that her monograph is complete but 
there is some hold-up with publishing it; I don't know whether it's 
lack of funding or something else (from editorial experience I tend 
to suspect a botanical artist is not finishing the drawings).

The two collections of Colchicum decaisnei that I have here are 
similar in size but one does have wider tepals than the other. One is 
from cultivated seed from the UK (but is definitely not C. laetum 
hort.) and the other is a wild collection.

Incidentally, for many years I've been growing a miniature 
white-flowered colchicum received from an English source as C. 
cupanii, but I'm pretty sure it's C. hungaricum. However, in the new 
entries for the NARGS photo contest there is a photo, taken in the 
wild, and identified as C. hungaricum, that is rather different from 
anything I have under that name. It may be an unusual form, however, 
because it is white with a pink base. One of the prettiest small 
colchicums here I bought from Antoine Hoog, a very reliable 
botanist-grower, as C. hungaricum 'Valentine', and it is bright pink 
and bigger than other C. hungaricum I've seen.

There are some very tiny Colchicum species, and these tend to 
increase well. Increase in species also seems to vary with 
individuals (or populations); for instance, I have three collections 
of C. variegatum, and one of them increases fairly fast, but the 
others hardly at all. Some species seem to set seed more readily than 
others, but it's hard to collect the seed because it is apparently 
attractive to ants, which usually find it before I do. Oddly, the 
species formerly known as Merendera hang onto their seeds better; 
perhaps the ant-attractant is not present on them?

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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