Scilla maderensis

Johannes Ulrich Urban
Fri, 17 Nov 2017 01:22:39 PST
Dear All,

Reading about scilla maderensis in the recent posts I would like to 
share my experience. I found this bulb always very difficult to grow (in 
northern Germany, in the garden in summer, under frost free cold glass 
in winter) it always looked as if it was either too dry or too wet or to 
warm or to cold, in other words: never happy. My bulbs came from madeira 
where they originate and were sold in a flower shop there.

Then I discovered Scilla latifolia on the Canary Island of La Palma. I 
thought it was Scilla maderensis but was told by a local botanist who 
really knows that it is a different species. But me not being a 
botanist, I cannot distinguish them. This plant is VERY vigorous, easy 
to please, flowers much better with branching inflorescence (Scilla 
maderensis never did that with me) and sets A LOT of seed. Scilla 
maderensis is almost sterile, probably this species is on the brink of 
extinction in the wild due to extreme endemism and genetic depletion.

Both plants come from more or less the same climate which is not really 
mediterranean. It is a winter rain and summer drought climate both on 
Madeira and La Palma but due to the trade winds and the island position 
the humidity is always much higher than in the classic mediterranean 
climate. And the summer temperatures are not as high ( Mainland 
Spaniards come to the Canaries for summer vacations to escape their 
summer mainland heat) These plants come from medium elevation where 
there is always some cloud condensation. That explains their relatively 
short dormancy, their tolerance of summer watering and their unability 
to tolerate any frost whatsoever. These habitats are 100% frost free. I 
have not seen Scilla maderensis in the wild but I saw it in gardens in 
Madeira always in partial shade. They looked like big clumps of one 
clone and even there I do not remember to have seen any seed. Madeira is 
even milder, moister and cooler in summer than the Canaries.

I saw Scilla latifolia wild in La Palma in full sun but in dense 
vegetation so also partially shaded. But I think it tolerates more sun 
than Scilla maderensis. The flowers were poking out of the surrounding 

Scilla latifolia is very easy from seed. My plants were grown from seed 
I was given by the told botanist who grew a lot of them in his garden in 
partial shade (under orange trees where they get some summer water) It 
flowers after 3 years but the bulbs will become much bigger later. 
branching inflorescence only in mature plants. I have donated seed in 
the past to the BX but this year they do not seem to set seed. Due to my 
move to Portugal my bulbs had do be very patient this year..... but this 
one is in flower right now, have hand pollinated!

There was some correspondence about Canarina canariensis earlier in this 
group, Canarina comes from higher, moister elevations than the Scilla 
but the cultivation is the same. Both have a relatively short summer 
dormancy and do not want to bake in the sun but like to be kept slightly 

There are also discussions that both species of Scilla are the same, S. 
latifolia only a variant or subspecies or even a local form of S. 
maderensis. I cannot comment on this as I am not a botanist.

bye for today


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