Bellevalia is a genus in the Hyacinthaceae family. There are about 50 species in the genus from Europe and the Middle East. Most are brown flowered. Only a small handful of the species are really attractive. They show the best of the blue shades available in the bulb world and are very striking. Species in the past have been included in Muscari or Hyacinthus. They are generally easy to cultivate. They are not constricted at the mouth like Muscari. Bellevalia was the subject of the PBS list topic of the week April 2004. Alberto Castillo supplied the Introduction
Bellevalia densiflora Boiss. is an unfamiliar species from north east Lebanon and north west Syria. Interestingly, this species has creamy colored flowers and yellow anthers which is uncommon feature of this genus. Leaves are long, up to 35 cm, with 1-5 flower spikes appearing at intervals. Photos by Oron Peri in his collection.
Bellevalia desertorum Eig & Feinbrun is distributed in Eastern Mediterranean deserts. It is the first Bellevalia species to flower in this habitat, starting in early February. Easily recognised by the sessile flowering stem and 3(-4)spotted leaves. First two photos of the species were taken by Oron Peri in its habitat in the Negev Desert. Third photo by Gideon Pisanty.
Bellevalia dubia (Guss.) Schult. & Schult.f. is a Mediterranean species with flowers that are blue in bud and turn brownish as they open. It blooms in early spring. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner show the progression of the flowering stalk. When it emerges, it is quite short (Oxalis obtusa low growing leaves for comparison in the first photo) and once it starts opening it gets taller and taller. Since not all bulbs bloom at the same time, you may see a progression of flowers of various colors and heights. In the last picture there is a flower that is finishing that is out of the frame.
Bellevalia flexuosa Boiss. is a winter grower distributed in the Middle East and North Africa where it grows in Mediterranean woodlands and shrublands and semi-steppe shrublands. Known as Common Roman Squill, it grows to about 10 cm (4 inches) tall and flowers January to March. The creamy white flowers are not especially showy, but have purple/blue stamens. In the same population there may be individuals with a green scape or a purple-topped scape. There is a flower mimicry between this bellevalia and Orchis israelitica so bees visiting this species will also visit and pollenize the non-rewarding orchis. In the garden it will often self-seed so might have weed potential in favorable climates. Bellevalia flexuosa has been studied for its cytotoxic compounds against certain cancers. To learn about this see this article. First three photos from Shmuel Silinsky. Photo 4 taken late January 2010 by Shlomit Heymann in Israel.
Bellevalia forniculata (Fomin) Delaunay see Pseudomuscari forniculatum(Fomin) Garbari
Bellevalia hermonis Mouterde is a species native to Israel. Photo by Gideon Pisanty.
Bellevalia hyacinthoides (Bertol.) K.Perss. & Wendelbo is native to Greece. Plants supplied by Paul Christian, photographed by Rimmer de Vries.
Bellevalia longipes Post from Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq blooms mid spring. It has brownish lavender flowers on long pedicels. Photo by John Lonsdale.
Bellevalia longistyla (Miscz.) Grossh. is native to eastern Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus in mountains and steppes. The pedicels are long in flower and become even longer in seed. First photo by Jane McGary. Photos 2,3 taken in its habitat in Georgia by Oron Peri.
Bellevalia pycnantha (K.Koch) Losinsk. according to Plants of the World Online is a synonym for Bellevalia paradoxa (Fisch. & C.A.Mey.) Boiss. It is native from Turkey through the Caucasus and is one of the more widely available species in cultivation. The very dark flowers are typical. Plants sold commercially under this name are lighter blue than the photographed plant, which was grown from Turkish seed. Easily cultivated in well-drained soil. Photo by Jane McGary
Bellevalia rixii is a recently described species from eastern Turkey. Photographed growing in rocky, silty soil just after snowmelt in the mountains near Lake Van, Turkey. Photo by Jane McGary.
Bellevalia romana (L.) Sweet is from Southern Europe. The flowers are a creamy white fading to brown, dull violet, or brownish green. It has blue-black anthers. It may be one of the easier species to grow and looks better when it first opens than when it is fading. Photos from Mary Sue Ittner.
Bellevalia sitiaca Kypriotakis & Tzanoud. is an extremely rare species from East Crete. It is a species of high cliffs, growing in crevices and rock pockets flowering in February-March. Photo was taken by Oron Peri in his collection.
Bellevalia speciosa Woronow ex Grossh., syn Bellevalia sarmatica (Pall. ex Miscz.) Woronow, is a relatively rare, large species distributed from East Europe through Turkey to Iran and Iraq. Its habitat is open grassy hills and clearings in shrubby areas. Blooming from April - June. Photo was taken in habitat in Georgia by Oron Peri
Bellevalia trifoliata (Ten.) Kunth This species is accepted, and its native range is South of France, Italy, Greece to Israel. Shlomit Heymann captured these blooming in early March in habitat in Israel.
Bellevalia turkestanica Franch., syn. Bellevalia atroviolacea Regel, has the deepest purple-blue flowers in the whole genus. It is native to the Pamir mountains and Afghanistan where it grows mainly on grassy slopes and occasionally in rocky situations. Photos taken in its habitat in Tajikistan by Oron Peri.