Fritillaria striata and F. pluriflora

Jane McGary
Thu, 22 Mar 2012 11:07:47 PDT
At our NARGS chapter meeting Tuesday evening, PBS member Terry 
Laskiewicz showed a beautiful specimen of Fritillaria striata, with 
the flowers not quite open. There was something about the foliage 
that didn't look quite typical to me, but I thought it may have been 
the result of the plant having been grown in a frost-free greenhouse, 
whereas I grow mine under cover but where they experience some frost. 
This is a species from southern California and is regarded by English 
writers as not very hardy, but I have found it fully hardy to at 
least 20 degrees F (about minus 6 C).

Terry has now sent me a photo of the open flower, and I can't tell 
whether it is within the range of variation of F. striata, but it 
seems more widely flared and very bright pink, so now I'm wondering 
if it is a hybrid with F. pluriflora, another Californian 
pink-flowered species that I also grow. I have plants grown from seed 
of my F. pluriflora that are obviously hybrids with F. striata, and 
Ian Young in Scotland has also has these occur in his collection. 
Terry's plant is one from a large batch of seedling bulbs that I 
distributed through my "surplus list" a few years ago, and I wonder 
if the bees went both ways between the two species.

Has anyone who received seedling bulbs of F. striata from me flowered 
plants that don't quite match the species description? My hybrid from 
seed parent pluriflora lacks the sweet fragrance characteristic of 
striata, but plants with striata as the seed parent might be 
fragrant. So far the striata seedlings I have in bloom here all 
appear to be typical striata.

Another difference between the species is the leaves, which in 
pluriflora have a slightly undulate margin; those of striata are 
flat. My obvious hybrid has pluriflora-influenced leaves. Foliage 
form is one way I can spot another common hybrid in the collection, 
between F. biflora and F. purdyi, before the plants even bloom for 
the first time.

The hybrid California frits I have are also particularly robust, 
which is a bonus since, except for F. biflora, all the parents are 
reputed to be difficult in cultivation.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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