What is a garlicule? was Re: The world's most desired bulb

Elaine Jek via pbs pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net
Thu, 16 Apr 2020 13:43:27 PDT
Thanks Leo! I greatly appreciate the info here. I was just thinking I
should learn more about botany.  -Elaine.

On Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 9:35 AM oooOIOooo via pbs <
pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net> wrote:

> --
> > Are garlicules= bulblets and carpules= cloves of garlic? Do you consume
> the bulblets or are those meant for planting?
> "Garlicule" is a jocular novodixi. "Carpule" of "carpel" are botanical
> terms for the structure containing the egg or eggs. After fertilization it
> usually grows larger as the seed or seeds develop. Most plants have more
> than one carpel per flower. They are attached together in such a way most
> people would not notice they are separate structures without looking
> carefully. When the attached carpules mature and dry they are referred to
> colloquially as "seed pods." The botanical term for a seed pod is "fruit."
> Monocots, including garlic, and almost all the plants we like to talk
> about here, normally have three carpels per flower. If you've ever looked
> at the fruits of Gladiolus, garlic, freesias, lilies, Agave or Yucca you
> will probably notice they have three longitudinal parts. They often come
> apart at these seams, revealing the seeds in the three parts of the fruit.
> The botanical term for seed pods coming apart is "dehiscence." The way seed
> pods come apart is often used to differentiate species in other parts of
> the plant world, but almost all (all? I haven't met all of them) monocots
> have dehiscence along the seams separating the original carpules.
> Other plants have differing numbers of carpels. Milkweeds and oleanders
> have two. The rose family, including things like apples, pears, stone
> fruits and berries, has five carpules. They're not easy to see because they
> are so well fused, and the true fruit is buried deeply inside the part we
> eat. When you cut an apple or pear, the woody section inside containing the
> seeds is the fruit. The yummy part is extremely modified stem that grows
> around the fruit. This protects it and attracts seed dispersing animals.
> Anyway... An allium inflorescence (garlic, chives, onions, etc.) contains
> many small flowers. Normally each will produce a small 3-part carpel
> containing several black seeds at maturity. My particular garlic variety,
> however, did not produce any carpules. Instead it produced what appears to
> me to be one very small bulb in the place of each fruit. I jokingly
> referred to them as garlicules, derived from an elision of garlic and
> carpule; that was incorrect; the proper term would be garlifruits. I'm too
> lazy to peel tiny little bulbs like that, but I'm pretty sure they're
> edible.
> Producing plants rather than fruits is not limited to alliums. Some agaves
> do this. Agave plantlets formed from flowers are referred to as bulbils.
> Agave rosettes die after flowering. Through bulbil production a dying plant
> can produce progeny even if not pollinated, and get another chance at
> genetic recombination. When this happens there is usually one Agave bulbil
> per carpel, or three per flower. Many bulbils proliferate further on the
> inflorescence, so one can get tens of thousands of bulbils per
> inflorescence. Some species, like Agave murpheyi or A. angustifolia v.
> tequilana (previously A. tequilana) almost never produce seed, only
> bulbils. Other species, like A. gypsophila and A. vilmoriniana, produce
> seeds when pollinated and bulbils when not pollinated.
> People have selected special varieties of useful plants over the
> millennia. Useful plants easy to propagate are even more desirable. With
> normal garlic, at the end of the growing season, the bulb system (what we
> call head) of one plant can be divided into 7-15 individual bulbs (cloves)
> for next year. But that means people can't eat the cloves set aside for
> planting. This garlic produces hundreds of tiny bulbs. Not only can people
> eat the whole head, saving only the tiny bulbs for next year, but this
> variety produces hundreds of propagules, not just 7-15. (A propagule is a
> piece of plant that will grow into a whole plant.)
> Similarly with Agave: Many species were food or fiber plants in the
> American Southwest and Mesoamerica. From seed to flowering is 10-25, or
> more, years. I have flowered A. murpheyi from a bulbil in less than 10
> years. A plant producing bulbils will be much easier and quicker to
> propagate than one that needs to be raised from seed. I believe all the
> dozen or so known food agaves produce bulbils instead of seeds. Almost all
> useful agaves that were cultivated also have prodigious basal offsetting,
> which makes propagation even easier.
> Leo Martin
> Phoenix Arizona USA
> Zone 9?
> --
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