Chionodoxa and other "squills"

Travis O
Fri, 03 Apr 2015 19:42:56 PDT

Recently my curiosity has gotten the best of me and I decided to delve into the subject of Chionodoxa, trying to learn all I could about the genus. Recent taxonomy has merged the genus into Scilla as a separate section proposed by botanist Franz Speta (Scilla sect. Chionodoxa) or as part of the "Scilla bifolia group" based on the close genetic relationship found in some phylogenetic studies. Add to this the traditional butchering of the names by bulb retailers, and so it will probably be another fifty years before the world finds consensus as to what to call these things.

Whatever they are called, I did some fun detective work and learned quite a bit. I posted some photos of dissected Chionodoxa flowers from my garden onto the PBS wiki  Chionodoxa page [1]. Also, I wrote a simple key highlighting the differences between Chionodoxa, Puschkinia, and Scilla [2] (I tried my best anyway). It would be fun to expand the key to include more species, but I only included one at species level, Scilla vardaria, because of its weird floral morphology (a fused corona unlike Chionodoxa and definitely not a Puschkinia).

Chionodoxa page:


Dichotomous key to squills:


I hope this can be useful to somebody, or it is at least interesting. I guess even if nobody sees it I had fun and learned a lot. I hope Spring is starting well for everyone! Happy Giant-Egg-Laying-Rabbit Day!

Travis Owen
Rogue River, OR

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