Checking California bulb species

Jane McGary via pbs
Sat, 06 Jun 2020 11:15:23 PDT
Two notes on Californian bulbs now in flower:

1. Seed received from the PBS BX in 2015 as Calochortus appendiculatus 
has flowered here and all individuals are C. luteus.

2. Plants grown from NARGS seedex seed as "Brodiaea synandra Salmon" 
(presumably referring to Mike Salmon's old Monocot seed list) are 
definitely not that entity. "B. synandra" is now called B. insignis. My 
plants are a Brodiaea with quite prominent violet staminodes fitting the 
description (inrolled, hooded) in the Jepson Manual for B. jolonensis 
(most Brodiaea species with prominent staminodes, including B. insignis, 
have white or pale ones). The perianth is funnel-shaped ("ascending") 
rather than the widely opening perianth described for B. insignis. 
However, the staminodes are almost twice as long as the style, while 
Jepson has them about the same length in B. insignis and B. jolonensis. 
B. terrestris can have violet staminodes, but they also don't exceed the 
style according to Jepson; also, I'm pretty familiar with B. terrestris 
and this doesn't look like it.  Anyway, "synandra" is an obsolete name 
if you have it on something. I wonder if it refers to the relative 
positions of the stamens and staminodes, which are "held close" in both 
insignis and jolonensis. (If you're new to Brodiaea, the staminodes are 
three infertile structures that alternate with the three fertile 
stamens. Not all Brodiaea species have them, but most do.)

Admittedly, brodiaeas, which are or recently were grouped with 
Dichelostemma, Triteleia, Bloomeria, and a couple of other genera in the 
Themidaceae, are not "choice" plants to most PBS members, probably 
because they're too easy to grow. Triteleia laxa was one of my favorite 
wildflowers when I was a child in California and loved to find it among 
the dry grasses. Almost all of them (like many Calochortus species) 
flower much later than other dry-summer bulb species, so they are useful 
in the June garden if their winter-growing leaves can be accommodated 
there and hidden, as they wither, by surrounding plants in early-summer 
growth, which also support the themids' tall stems. Most of them seem to 
tolerate some summer water while dormant. They don't take many years 
from sowing to flowering, either. In nature they often grow in scrub, 
where their stems elongate to raise the flowers into the open; one, 
Dichelostemma volubile, is actually a twiner and can get more than a 
meter up into a shrub. Because of the long, bare stems, all look best 
when closely planted in the garden.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

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