What makes erythroniums bloom?

Pacific Rim paige@hillkeep.ca
Wed, 07 Apr 2010 22:57:33 PDT
> I sure don't see a pattern. Best Jim W.

Perhaps Erythronium bloom when they have no other way to reproduce, or at
least when it's in their favor to reproduce by seed.

Why, I could only speculate, but in my conditions (wet zone 6, in SW British 
Columbia, Canada), Erythronium from western N America bloom and seed around, 
while those from eastern N America and Eurasia struggle, then fade.

People in eastern N America and Europe have often said the same thing in

Might it be true that the only ones that burgeon everywhere are E.
dens-canis cultivars selected and reselected in the Netherlands until they
could live on Mars?

When a western Erythronium reaches the two-leaf stage, it is usually ready
to bloom. I would say it is always ready but I have seen blanks. In addition
to seeding around, western Erythronium produce "sidekicks" -- small
bulbs, shaped like baroque pearls -- that may safely be snapped
off their mother before they separate on their own.

As well, some bulbs mature to produce two and even three flowers on a stem. 
It is
tempting to think of the increase in flowers as reflecting an increase in
health or carbon reserve. Other plants of the same sowing have so far 
remained single, but, though robust, they are smaller.

Has anyone seen more than three flowers on a stem?

But what about the other Erythronium species?

The treatment of Erythronium in the Flora of North America
http://efloras.org/florataxon.aspx/… notes that
the spp. of eastern N America and Eurasia are closely related, and that many
of them multiply easily by thin stolons. I wouldn't invest in seeds if I
didn't have to, would you? Put in the time to ripen, sow, germinate and
grow? Hegemony is all.

My experience with non-western species is limited; my E. japonicum are now
slowly expanding from seed but I retain only a few E. dens-canis and E.

Some time ago I was in touch with Geraldine Allen, co-author of the FNA
treatment of Erythronium. It struck me then, and strikes me again, that we
should invite her into our world, whether as author or lecturer.

Paige Woodward

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