Fritillaria atropurpurea, et al

Jane McGary
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:12:17 PDT
A leading theory on the tendency of some Fritillaria species to produce 
many tiny bulblets ("rice grains") is that it's an adaptation to 
predation by digging animals. When the main bulb is dug and eaten, the 
little bulblets are spread throughout the disturbed soil and can grow on 
in a well-tilled, nutrient-rich medium. This theory also is mentioned in 
connection with such genera as Brodiaea and Camassia, which are dug and 
eaten by bears, and were also important foods for indigenous people. 
There is no benefit that I've ever noticed from leaving the bulblets 
attached to the parent bulb. They do produce a mass of small leaves, but 
whether the photosynthesis from these leaves nourishes the main bulb at 
all is unclear.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

On 9/19/2018 3:23 AM, Brian Whyer via pbs wrote:
> I always remember my early days of bulb growing when with "frits" you were told to pour the bulblets round the parent bulbs when repotting, suggesting the parent(s) would benefit from this. I have never seen any reasoning behind this; but vaguely assumed that with an annual growth replacement bulb, the decaying bulblets will feed the larger bulb(s). Whether there is anything more scientific than this I don't know. Extra availability of nutrients should override this and you should get at least the same number of bulblets at the end of the season. Although this is, I presume, less relevant with annual root growth and annual repotting; mycrorhizal links between the roots systems may play a part in this too. Extra roots "dropping" improve drainage too I guess, if this is beneficial or a potential problem.
> Does anyone have a more scientific understanding of this?
> Brian Whyer, south east UK.
> Still suffering from the long hot summer, and now strong drying winds from second hand hurricanes. Only the Colchicums, which have no roots yet, seem to not worry and are exceptional this year. (until they get blown over)

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