Sternbergia

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 13 Oct 2018 10:42:18 PDT
The fall Sternbergia species (there are spring ones too) are at their 
flowering peak now in Oregon. After an annual expedition into the 
internet to try to identify the most unusual one I grow, I find that the 
geniuses at Kew have spared me further effort by declaring that almost 
all of them, including the former S. sicula and S. greuteriana, are 
Sternbergia lutea. I think Sternbergia clusiana remains distinct; after 
many years I have one that flowers nicely, though increasing very 
slowly. I'm sorry to see that S. greuteriana has been sunk, as its tiny 
stature and oblique scapes seem quite different to the observer deprived 
of a DNA lab. I put a number of its bulbs in an open, slightly raised 
bed a couple of years ago and they're doing well. I never did really 
believe that S. sicula was that different from S. lutea. My "odd one 
out" is the size of S. greuteriana (that was) but has fully erect scapes 
and hysteranthous foliage (i.e., flowers before the leaves emerge). 
Photos from the wild sometimes show leafless plants in flower, so maybe 
this varies from population to population, or is affected by growing 
conditions. I wonder if this little plant, grown from seed, reflects 
variation among the former S. sicula in Crete; this was noted by 
botanists in debunking Ravenna's "S. minoana" as merely one form in a 
variant population, not an uncommon fate for the latter's publications. 
I think I distributed it at one time with the note that it was probably 
a small form of S. lutea. The photo in the wiki showing a large flower 
of S. lutea with those of the little form is misplaced under S. 
greuteriana, but thanks to Kew that's all right now.

I suppose the wiki page on Sternbergia should be reorganized now, or at 
least the introduction should acknowledge the lumping view. I assume the 
page was composed by someone more knowledgeable than myself, so will not 
presume to edit it, but it probably should be done.

Jane McGary

Portland, Oregon, USA

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