Calochortus syntrophus

Diana Chapman
Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:20:44 PDT
Dear Jane:

I am growing it, and I have been to the second site (at least I think it 
is the one referred to), where it grows on a steep rocky incline.  I 
don't think they have free range cattle in the area.  It is a fairly 
small site, although I didn't explore it fully, and when I was there 
there were only a few in bloom, so I may have had a mistaken impression 
that there were few plants there.  I have no difficulty growing this 
species, and it sets seed reliably.

> This morning I was in the bulb house observing (i.e., gloating over)
> the Calochorti, and I found that a plant of Calochortus syntrophus
> has produced a tall stem with numerous buds and also a secondary
> scape branching off it with more buds. This species had flowered for
> me at least once in the frames, where I had it in an 8-inch clay pot,
> but (like most of the other species) it's suddenly much bigger now
> that it's free-growing. I grew it from seed collected by Ron Ratko at
> the type site, and I see from the recent book on the genus by
> Gerritsen and Parsons that a second site has been found 70 km away
> from the first. I had heard that the type site has been damaged by
> grazing, so I was wondering how established this species is in
> cultivation. Are any of you growing it? The authors write that it has
> been grown from seed but is "reputedly difficult to get to flower." I
> don't know how difficult that would be, as I never did anything
> unusual with it; however, it's from northern California and may
> appreciate the colder winters here in Oregon, as compared with
> growing it in mild parts of California.
> I'm also wondering whether Calochortus (Mariposa section) are
> self-fertile, because only one plant of this species is flowering
> this year (there are two clones present, but one is resting), and
> since it's so rare I'd like to hand-pollinate it to get seed. It had
> set seed for me in the past when both plants flowered, but the seed
> may have been sired by another of the numerous Mariposa section that
> bloom around the same time, since there were a great many pollinators
> at the old garden (very few here in the city). There doesn't seem to
> be any information in the abovementioned book about fertility.
> I usually don't want hybridization among my plants, but have to admit
> that when I look at the remarkable scarlet-orange color of
> Calochortus kennedyi I wonder what its hybrid offspring might look
> like! Fortunately, however, there are two clones of it in bloom and
> I'll cross-pollinate them as soon as the pollen is ready.
> Jane McGary
> Portland, Oregon, USA
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