Seeking photos of Merendera/Colchicum for PBS wiki

Jane McGary
Fri, 22 Jan 2016 16:09:14 PST

On 1/22/2016 11:49 AM, Travis O wrote:
> I would be happy to receive photos of "mystery" species, and try my hand at identifying them.

This is not a genus, or genera, that one can identify from photos. Not 
only do you have to see the details of the reproductive parts, you need 
to examine the leaves and the leaflike structures (I'm not sure if they 
are called prophylls and cataphylls, as in Crocus) that may be all or 
partly below the soil surface. The color of the anthers is one of the 
diagnostic features, and it can change some as the flower ages. Some 
species have unusually shaped corms, too. The color of the flowers is 
variable; I have seen both white and pink flowered forms of the same 
species growing together. Also variable is the degree of tessellation 
among individuals, though some species are definitely not tessellated. 
When I joined a group viewing fall bulbs in southern Greece and Turkey, 
at least three populations our guide's fieldnotes identified as 
Colchicum parlatoris were visually quite distinct, and only one of them 
resembled what I grew here under that name (Archibald seed).

Finally, we have in cultivation many named hybrids in the large, 
fall-flowering colchicums, and it seems likely that smaller species 
might hybridize in cultivation as well. They are bee-pollinated.

If  you are going to post photos of these plants, please ask the 
contributors to specify the location in the wild or, if cultivated, the 
geographical origin of the illustrated plants.

The large number of species that have been named, the apparent 
variability within some populations, and the similarity of some groups 
of named entities make one wonder if the eastern Mediterranean is home 
to continua of Colchicum and/or Merendera which continue to evolve. I 
admit to preferring lumping to splitting, but others tend in the 
opposite direction.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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