Fritillaria affinis in Puget Sound country

Jane McGary
Tue, 08 May 2012 18:38:11 PDT
Fritillaria affinis (which older books describe under its former name 
F. lanceolata) is probably the most widespread of the American 
Fritillaria species, and not surprisingly, one of the easiest to 
grow. It ranges from coastal habitats such as Stephen Munro 
described, to mid elevations in the Cascades and California 
mountains. California populations sometimes have fairly pale flowers, 
but mostly these fritillaries are green checkered in purple-brown, or 
even very dark. I find that it likes pretty good drainage, but not an 
arid situation, although in summer some populations experience 
considerable drought -- but remember that their bulbs are deep underground.

For some years I've grown F. affinis 'Wayne Roderick', which is one 
of several triploid forms found along the Central California coast. 
Ed Rustvold of Berkeley gave me a form from Nicasio Reservoir, which 
is very stout but has flowers more like the typical ones. 'Wayne 
Roderick' has massive, deep purple flowers that are really square in 
outline. I also have a "dwarf" form grown from seed collected by 
Phyllis Gustafson in the Siskiyou Mountains, which flowers at only 
about 4 inches (10 cm) tall. I had a form from seed collected by the 
Robinettes near the southern limit of the species' range in 
California, which had chartreuse flowers, but I lost it in a very cold winter.

The triploids are sterile but produce many "rice grain" offsets, and 
so they're widely distributed among growers.

Seeds collected on Vancouver Island and sent to an exchange as F. 
camschatcensis proved to be a rather short form (8 inches/20 cm) of 
F. affinis. Seeds I collected on the lower slope of Mount Hood, near 
my home, produce stems about 12 inches/30 cm tall.

This is one of a group of Pacific Coast fritillaries that includes F. 
recurva, F. micrantha, F. ojaiensis, F. eastwoodiae, and F. viridea. 
The natural hybrid of F. affinis and F. recurva is known as F. 
gentneri. I've grown seedlings from a cross of F. gentneri x F. 
eastwoodiae. The latter was sometimes thought to be a natural hybrid 
of recurva x micrantha, but it is found in some areas where neither 
of those grows. F. ojaienses is from southern California and has 
oddly shaped pale green flowers; F. viridea, also southern 
Californian, has tiny starry green flowers and is in bloom now, along 
with F. recurva. All of these are relatively tall plants which, as 
Stephen observed, tend to grow in scrub where the deer can't eat 
them. Recurva, gentneri, and eastwoodiae are popular because of their 
colorful flowers, which range from crimson to pale orange.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon

More information about the pbs mailing list