Mass blooming Calochortus

Diana Chapman
Mon, 21 May 2012 16:04:23 PDT
Well, I'm sure the ash does return nutrients, but probably not fast 
enough to make a difference the following year.  With many bulbs I grow, 
they bloom but don't set seed that readily.  My Paramongaia bulbs have 
been blooming for three years, and this is the first year I got a pod, 
so I think with Amaryllids they need to reach a certain size before they 
can maintain a seed pod.  I think you are right about moisture because 
in wet years in the foothills you see populations of bulbs blooming that 
you didn't even know existed in that area.  I never knew C. superbus 
grew just up the road until we had a very wet spring.

> Greetings,
>    I would posit that the mass growth&  bloom was a result of the reduced competition for sunlight and moisture but I would further posit that seed-setting is comparatively more limited by trace elements than by sunlight/moisture. It would be interesting to test this by comparing the seed-set (rather than merely the vegetative growth or flowers) of two populations that experience manual vs. fire-induced clearing (assuming there is some truth to the idea that fire returns nutrients to the soil!).
> -|<ipp
>> Date: Mon, 21 May 2012 14:45:44 -0700
>> From:
>> To:
>> Subject: [pbs] Mass blooming Calochortus
>> I was in the Sierra foothills about a month ago for my usual trip to see
>> the wildflowers.  Last year I was very dismayed to see that virtually
>> all vegetation in one area had been cleared in on both sides of the road
>> to a depth of about 20 feet.  This went on for some miles, and was
>> probably for fire control.  In a completely different area, similar
>> clearing of manzanita had taken place.  This spring there was a mass
>> blooming of Calochortus tolmiei in one place and C. monophyllus in
>> another.  In both areas (which I know very well) I have never seen
>> blooming like this, and in some places I have never seen them blooming
>> at all.  This was not a good year for bulb flowers due to the two month
>> dry spell we had, so these two areas really stood out.  It has been
>> postulated that mass blooming of bulbs after fire could be due to smoke
>> penetrating the ground, or to nutrients from the ash, but there were
>> neither, just the removal of dense shrubby vegetation, so maybe it isn't
>> anything mysterious at all, just the removal of competition, thereby
>> making available to the existing bulbs more moisture and nutrients in
>> the soil.  I went back this weekend for seed, and another thing struck
>> me was that the percentage of plants that set seed in colonies like this
>> is very small.  The flowering was amazing, but seed was fairly sparse,
>> not even 10% of the individuals producing seed.  the C. monophyllus (it
>> is not spotted) literally covers square miles in this area, and the C.
>> tolmiei is almost as abundant.
>> Diana
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