Bowiea volubilis seed production

Steve Marak via pbs
Tue, 05 Jan 2021 15:50:14 PST

I was given the typical form of Bowiea volubilis, as in your picture, 
years ago and have grown it since then (in a greenhouse, NW Arkansas), 
and it's in growth now, though not yet in flower. I've never tried to 
self it, and normally there are no spontaneous seeds set, but I seem to 
remember that I did get seeds one year.

But I also grow the gariepensis subspecies, and have had the "nana" form 
in the past - though I can't seem to  find it today - and the greenhouse 
is open for ventilation when it's warm, so those might have been hybrid 
seeds courtesy of some passing insect. I don't need more of that form, 
so I didn't sow the seed and can't be sure it was viable.

I'll try to do a more controlled experiment when I see flowers this 
time. I did try selfing the gariepensis once and did not get seed.


On 1/5/2021 5:04 PM, David Schaeffer via pbs wrote:
> As per request, attached are a current photo of what I'm calling the
> typical form - this particular plant is about 3 and 1/2 in across and just
> divided for the first time at just under 4 yrs old from a bulb scale
> cutting - and an older shot of the "nana". The pic isn't the best but it
> does show the characteristically more robust and erect "branches" on the
> inflorescence. The bulb was below soil level at the time of the photo. For
> those who care about these things, the B. volubilis "nana" is an
> incorrigible summer grower, breaking dormancy in May or June. Seeds ripen
> and the vines begin to yellow in September/October, but I've never seen it
> manage to shut down on its own before frost - I have to bring it in.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: pbs [] On Behalf Of
> David Schaeffer via pbs
> Sent: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 3:15 PM
> To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
> Cc: David Schaeffer <>
> Subject: [pbs] Bowiea volubilis seed production
> Since I mentioned Bowiea in a recent post...what's the deal with Bowiea and
> selfing? I have had Bowiea "nana" for many years and it selfs easily and
> prolifically - I find myself discarding large amounts of harvested seed, in
> fact.
> I assume "nana", which I obtained from Grigsby's (well, a nursery that
> obtained it from Grigsby's) is what used to be called B. kilimandscharica -
> it certainly matches the few photos I can find of that plant and is
> obviously distinct from the "typical" horticultural form (the familiar
> bloated monster with its wispy vine).
> But said "bloated monster" seemingly will not self. I've even tried one of
> Steve Hammer's mesemb tricks, applying pollen on consecutive days, to no
> avail. I often get fruit, but they yellow and wither along with the vine at
> the end of the season, containing no viable seed. OTOH, I see seed offered
> for sale with some regularity, particularly from European sellers.
> I recall academic references to B. volubilis showing frequent
> irregularities
> during meiosis, and some websites mentioning the plant doesn't set seed
> often.
> What's your experience with the "typical" B. volubilis - the type with
> potentially fist-sized bulbs and finer-branched pendant inflorescences,
> whose bulbs tend to stay at the surface of the soil - as far as seed
> production goes?
> Thanks and regards,
> Dave

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