Mystery Bulbs

This page is a place where people can post pictures of bulbs they are having trouble identifying. Anyone who thinks they can help figure out these plants, please send a note to the pbs list for discussion. New items appear at the top of the page.

Leo Martin: These came to me as PBS BX 430-8 Oxalis glabra, ex BX 362. BX 362 included only one glabra, 10. Oxalis glabra. My plant has leaves with small hairs at the margins. It looks like a white O. purpurea. Anybody have comments on this ID? Is anybody else growing 430-8 or 362-10, and what do they look like? Of course, it is possible I mixed up tags at planting, or later.

Photos from Leo Martin.

Oxalis sp., Leo MartinOxalis sp., Leo Martin

This Albuca appeared in one of my pots. I'm not sure where it came from, maybe some misidentified seed from an exchange? Where I live in Coastal Northern California the leaves usually appear in February and it usually flowers in June. I'm ready to send it to Albert for the BX but hope someone can identify it for me first. Photos from Mary Sue Ittner.

Albuca sp., Mary Sue IttnerAlbuca sp., Mary Sue IttnerAlbuca sp., Mary Sue IttnerAlbuca sp. leaves, Mary Sue IttnerAlbuca sp. bulb, Mary Sue Ittner

Mystery bulb from Maria Botwright who said "I picked up a plant which looks like a flattened football. It has a smooth appearance and is light beige in colour. From its centre a yearly stem comes out. It bears parallel leaves along the stem, which is approx 1'6" and bears small, insignificant, bell shaped white flowers. I bought it because of its unusual appearance, but now i have the responsibility to find out its name,what it is and how to look after it. Have contacted several people and scanned the internet, to no avail. It could belong to the Beaucarnea species, except that the leaves are shaped more like those of a rosebush." - solved by Ewald "Raphionacme burkei (Apocynaceae)".

Mystery bulb from Maria Botwright

A mystery bulb from George Goldsmith. See list discussion. Identified as Sprekelia formosissima.

Unknown bulb, George Goldsmith

Judy Glattstein said (at the end of May 2018), "Last Saturday I visited a Garden Conservancy's Open Days garden in Pennsylvania. Lots of lovely unusual trees. And this patch of bulbs. Owner has no idea what it is. Clearly thriving. Alas, I was about 3 days too soon for open flower." See list discussion. Identified as Ornithogalum magnum.

Unknown bulb, Judy GlattsteinUnknown bulb, Judy Glattstein

Kathleen Sayce would like help identifying a plant flowering in a pot labeled crinum, which died. She describes it as having lovely cool pink flowers on long drooping stems and grass-like leaves. One suggestion is Ixia rapunculoides.

Unknown irid, Kathleen SayceUnknown irid, Kathleen Sayce

David Landa wonders what this plant might be? See list discussion. Identified as Rauhia.

Unknown, David LandaUnknown, David LandaUnknown, David LandaUnknown, David LandaUnknown, David LandaUnknown, David Landa

Barbara Weintraub says I bought a bunch - maybe a dozen or so - unnamed rain lilies on eBay. The seller had no idea of their identity and said they’d been in the ground for 10-12 years. The plants are robust and bloomed at the peak of summer. The flowers are large, with overlapping pointed tepals, bright pink over white, and with prominent longitudinal veining. The flowers are one to a stem, pretty much pointing upward. The stamens were not easy to differentiate, appearing as a tangle in the throat. I did not dissect a flower to count them because I really didn’t want to sacrifice even one of these gorgeous blooms! Even after looking through Zephyranthes and Habranthus in the PBS wiki, I can’t figure out in which genus this one belongs.

Rain lily, Barbara WeintraubRain lily, Barbara WeintraubRain lily, Barbara WeintraubRain lily, Barbara Weintraub

Garry Koenigsberg wrote 'I bought an onion-sized bulb at the San Francisco Arboretum years ago, but lost track of the name. The plants multiply at a ridiculous rate and thrive on neglect. The leaves are about a foot tall, and the stems a bit taller, bearing several florets. Each has four white and green petals that open around four more petals that remain attached at the top.' A comment suggested this was Ornithogalum umbellatum, but it is more likely an Albuca species.

BX mystery, Garry KoenigsbergBX mystery, Garry Koenigsberg

Kuang Huang wrote 'got this plant from the BX, but lost the name tag, could some one id this plant?'.

BX mystery, Kuang Huang

Rimmer de Vries said this pot of seedlings from the PBS SX sale in Jan 2014 as Romulea monticola (seed started 3FEB 2014) finally bloomed today (27th March 2016) under bright light. it has been in the same wet peat based mix all along. It has very long leaves about 20" or more long , 2 mm wide grooved somewhat flattened oval, 2 mm wide. the corm is small has no obvious tunic after a swish in a bucket of water and sat at the bottom of the pot. The pink blooms are about 2-3” tall and 1.5 to 2.p cm diameter, it looks like the photo of Romulea engleri in the wiki. Can you confirm the identify? (scale in corm photo in cm).

Romulea mystery, Rimmer de VriesRomulea mystery, Rimmer de VriesRomulea mystery, Rimmer de VriesRomulea mystery, Rimmer de Vries

Cynthia W Mueller wondered what species of lily was producing bulbils see list discussion.

Lilium brownii perhaps, Cynthia W MuellerLilium brownii perhaps, Cynthia W Mueller

This small onion appeared in a pot of Lewisia in a garden in the UK. Photo by RH. Possibly Allium balansae?

Mystery Allium, RH

June 28, 2015, I am sure this is a species of Piperia. The leaves were withered, the plant was about 12" tall. There was no discernible scent, I don't know if it has a scent at night. Found under cedar, pine, madrone, and Douglas fir trees in Rogue River, OR. Photo by Travis Owen.

Piperia transversa, Travis Owen

Identified as Piperia transversa

June 4, 2015, "Just in the past few days while collecting seed pods of Erythronium hendersonii, I noticed a few small groups of these small white lily-like flowers. The plants were no taller than 5", and the leaves have dried and were disintegrated. The flowers were about 1/8" wide, wider at the mouth, and less than 3/8" long. When I crushed a floret there was the strong smell of garlic, leading me to think it is an Allium. I would rule out Triteleia hyacinthina because it lacks the appendages, and T. hyacinthina grows here too and is much larger and has a much different flower morphology." -Travis Owen - Identified as Allium bolanderi var. mirabile

Mystery Allium, Travis OwenMystery Allium, Travis Owen

Fabio F Suarezmotta writes "Please, anyone know the ID of gladiolus, it is normal for that species corm 4 inches in diameter and thickness of 1-3 / 8 = 3.5 cm thick"

Mystery Gladiolus, Fabio F SuarezmottaMystery Gladiolus, Fabio F Suarezmotta

This is some species of Chlorogalum. It grows in Rogue River, OR in a massive roadside colony. I am not sure if it is a subspecies of Chlorogalum pomeridianum or perhaps Chlorogalum angustifolium . The leaves are relatively straight with a mild waviness not unlike corn. Close up, the leaves are vaguely ribbed with faint white lines down the midrib. The inflorescence's are taller than wide, three or four feet tall, but I have never seen the flowers open. When I dug a few small plants from the roadside, I did not see any bulb tunic, though there may have been a few remaining fibers. Photos by Travis Owen.

Leaves at the end of February, 2015, Travis OwenLeaves, Travis Owen

Brad M writes, "this variegated Hymenocallis has been grown in Australia for many years. It's rather tropical in its growth, and stunts in cold weather. I cannot decide if its caribaea or littoralis Do you know which one is more likely here ?"

variegated Hymenocallis in Australia, Brad Mvariegated Hymenocallis in Australia, Brad Mvariegated Hymenocallis in Australia, Brad M

P M Mathai writes "I wonder if you could help in identification of a Ledebouria from an area around Graaff Reinet, in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Here is a photo of the Ledebouria from the old Shooting Range (taken over by housing developments, many years back) of Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa."

Mystery, P M Mathai.

Travis Owen asked "I was curious if you had any clue what this was?. I guessed either Ledebouria or Dactylorhiza but internet searches haven't yielded the exact leaf pattern. I have not seen it in flower. I received it at a local plant sale labeled "house plant" so no help there, except possibly hinting at a low frost tolerance." Identified as Ledebouria socialis.

Mystery, Travis OwenMystery, Travis Owen

Photos of Rhodophiala from Pamela Slate; she says "I found the record that says 'Granatiflora' - it is a much bigger plant, red-flowered, with a much taller peduncle and flowers at least third larger than bifida. Not having seen the plant before, I'm unsure whether it's correctly identified and I'm now sorry I didn't take measurements. The seed from Alberto (BX171) was grown by a commercial propagator friend and the tag could easily have been incorrect. Flowers did not show the wide, blunt tepals as the flower on the wiki".

Mystery Rhodophiala, Pamela SlateMystery Rhodophiala, Pamela SlateMystery Rhodophiala, Pamela Slate

Photos from Pamela Slate who says "Thinking it must be some Habranthus sp. but ID tags are long gone. The leaves are about the same width as Habranthus spp. - a cm or so wide - but are lime green. The plant is in flower now in a leafless state with leaves just beginning to emerge, like many rain lilies at this time of year". Identified as Zephyranthes sp. 'Labuffarosea'.

Mystery bulb, Pamela SlateMystery bulb, Pamela Slate

Photos from Travis Owen, Rogue River, OR. who said: "Here is another mystery bulb in the field behind my house in Rogue River, OR. The photos were taken last year in summer as the grasses had all died down and everything was straw colored. The leaves had already died down when it was flowering, but upon inspecting the site in spring this year I believe I located the leaves. They are no wider than 1/4", U-shaped in cross section, two per plant, grass like. The closest look-alike was Brodiaea coronaria, but I'm not confident. Also, the deer were fond of them, standing out in a dry field, purple, so I never found seed capsules." - identified as Brodiaea elegans.

Brodiaea coronaria, Travis OwenBrodiaea coronaria, Travis OwenBrodiaea coronaria, Travis Owen

Photos from Travis Owen, Rogue River, OR. who posed the following questions "I have some pictures of what I believe is Triteleia hendersonii, but a unique form with a very faint yellow line on the tepals, instead of purplish brown. It would be nice to get a confirmation on my identification of the species, as I am an amateur. I would also like to share it because it is not a form seen on the wiki. The following two pictures are Triteleia hendersonii, I think. Almost all the specimens I have found in my yard have white anthers, are about 10" tall, and have the same purplish stripes inside the tepals except for one, shown in the photo, which has much paler brownish stripes inside. The leaves, seen in the last picture, are keeled, about 3/8" thick at the base. I want to try to collect seed from these and hopefully grow them in the garden. There aren't too many of them, and I don't dare dig one up. Do you know someone who has experience growing Triteleia from seed?

The last picture I believe is Zigadenus (now Toxicoscordion), but I am not too familiar with this genus. The leaves seemed smaller than T. venonosum, but the flower arrangement and yellow nectaries seemed consistent with the species. The leaves were about 1/4" thick at the base, with one or two short leaves on the stem below the inflorescence. That beetle has been there for about four days, apparently quite content."

Triteleia hendersonii, Travis OwenTriteleia hendersonii, Travis OwenTriteleia hendersonii, Travis OwenToxicoscordion mystery, Travis Owen

Suzanne Vaughan says "This trillium (actually, there are 2 of them, first 4 photos) is different than any I have. I bought it from a nursery in Tennesse. I know that white trilliums begin white and fade to pink. The red and purple bloom as red and purple. But this one, only opened on Wednesday and it opened this color. The petals almost look more like the coloring of a hellebore. The petals started out this shaded, beige, pinkish color. Last photo is a red or purple trillium, not sure, but it starts out this color. Any ideas? Is it just a strange mutation of the red or purple? (but I have 2, as far as I know right now)."

Trillium unknown, Suzanne VaughanTrillium unknown, Suzanne VaughanTrillium unknown, Suzanne VaughanTrillium unknown, Suzanne VaughanTrillium unknown, Suzanne Vaughan

Judy Glattstein asked us to name this blue Corydalis. "It's blue, it's reliable, it is increasing very slowly - and I have no idea as to its identity". "And if anyone would care to suggest when I could move it a few inches further away from the magnolia. It is so happy here I don't want to try a major relocation but it is getting crowded".

Corydalis blue?, Judy Glattstein.

Ton Wijnen asked "Is the Hippeastrum in the picture H. starkiorum? Or another species? Puniceum? Petiolatum?".

Hippeastrum starkiorum?, Ton Wijnen

Nick de Rothschild asks for identification of this photo, most likely a Gladiolus, taken on a rocky hillside, west facing, on the side of the Skurweburg Mountain in Mpumalanga, South Africa on January 5, 2014. He thinks this may be G. varius.

Mystery Gladiolus, Mpumalanga mountains, Nick de Rothschild

Jyl Tuck asks for identification of this Eucomis. I started Eucomis bicolor from seed and some bulbs started flowering 3 summers ago. But there had always been a couple of bulbs that appeared different. Last summer I stuck all the bulbs in 1 pot to get a good show and one of the 'different' bulbs flowered. My Eucomis autumnalis and bicolor flowered end of July into August when the 'different' bulb started. As you can see in this picture (bicolor left) the 'different' bulbs (right) leaves are very long, not wavy, with no spots on leaves or stem of flower. I got a fair number of seed from the plant too which should not have crossed. The seeds has sprouted and are growing. Only got a couple seed from the other Eucomis which did not sprout. The way the flowers are arranged on the stem is different and about 18-20 inches tall.

Mystery Eucomis, Jyl TuckMystery Eucomis, Jyl Tuck

Jim Waddick wondered if this was a Gladiolus?

Mystery gladiolus, Jim Waddick

Robert Hoel writes "In early October we were hiking in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains about an hour west of Marrakech when I realized we were in an area where these flowers were all around us. The flower reminds me of a type of Ornithogalum but there was no foliage." Roland suggested Drimia maritima (syn. Urginea maritima).

Bulb to be identified, Robert HoelBulb to be identified, Robert HoelBulb to be identified, Robert Hoel

José Luis León de la Luz, an investigator from CIBNOR, has found a Zephranthes in the southern Baja California peninsula which does not resemble the species described for that location. Photo 1 is the unknown species of Zephranthes. Photo 2, for comparison, matches the Z. arenicola described in the Jepson Herbarium sheet UC 115459 and reported in this area. (Z. arenicola is now listed as a synonym of Habranthus arenicola.) The unknown (at left) does not match with Z. longifolia which is reported as a second species in Baja California.

Zephranthes sp., Jose Luis Leon de la LuzHabranthus arenicola, Jose Luis Leon de la Luz

Lachenalia canaliculata G. G. Duncan. Photographs by Steve Walters grown from JAA 639, seed collected west of Calvinia. Flowers started to open in December in the UK (equivalent to June in South Africa) which makes it a relatively early flowerer. This is not a generally accepted species name. The name is descriptive of the channeled, lower inner tepal: "upper two tepals overlapping, lower inner tepal narrower, 2 mm longer, strongly canaliculate". Expert opinion is sought if this is correctly identified.

Lachenalia canaliculata, Steve WaltersLachenalia canaliculata, Steve WaltersLachenalia canaliculata, Steve WaltersLachenalia canaliculata, Steve Walters

Nick de Rothschild is unsure if the pendulous plant shown below is Ixia maculata or not. The upright form is for comparison.

Ixia maculata?, Nick de RothschildIxia maculata, Nick de Rothschild

Lauw de Jager would like help identifying this plant growing in a neighbor's yard in France for over 20 years. It flowers in May. He thinks it is an Ornithogalum, but would like help with a species name. Two suggestions from the comments are: Camasssia leichtlinii ssp. leichtlinii and Ornithogalum ponticum.

Ornithogalum sp., Lauw de Jager

Photo by Jim Duggan of a plant that is being grown under the name Lapeirousia enigmata, a name that does not appear in data bases and does not appear to be a published name. It may have been first offered by Richard Doutt and Bioquest International and later by Jim Duggan and in various seed exchanges. Jim Waddick would like to know if anyone can identify it. Click here to see PBS list posts about Lapeirousia enigmata.

Lapeirousia enigmata, Jim Duggan

Photo by Jessica Sneeden who is contacting PBS to have this Trillium identified. She saw this in Redwood National Park, California, at the end of March. She suggests this may be Trillium chloropetalum based on comparison with NPS Whats Blooming Now? However, a PBS member wrote T. kurabayashii and/or T. angustipetalum cover any red trillium that might be in Redwood National Park, would rule out T. chloropetalum. Calflora pages T. chloropetalum and T. angustipetalum show where specimens have been collected.

Trillium cf. chloropetalum, Jessica SneedenTrillium cf. chloropetalum, Jessica Sneeden

Nicky Ross of Cape Town asks for help identifying this plant: "The bulb has popped up in my garden, and doing extremely well in a flower bed. It is spreading and looking very healthy. I am not sure if I have identified properly. The green leaves are long and narrow and do not start from the base of the plant but further up. I think it may be Hymenocallis littoralis but I need verification! The ruler is 30 cm long. I can’t remember when the lilies flowered, I think it was Feb/March." (Note that Nicky is in the southern hemisphere, so the plants would have bloomed in late summer or fall in the north.)

Any thoughts on their identity?

Belinda Greyling of Gauteng, South Africa, reports that this is Hymencallis narcissiflora. Jim McKenney thinks it is Hymenocallis × festalis, a hybrid of Hymenocallis narcissiflora and H. longipetala.

Unidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky RossUnidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky RossUnidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky RossUnidentified Hymenocallis, Nicky Ross

Leo Martin's friend Doug Dawson visited South Africa in May 2013. He took this photo of an unidentified Oxalis. Doug writes "I took the photo on May 13, 2013 less than a mile west of the N7 highway and Garies." This is about halfway between Vanrhynsdorp and Springbok. Diana Chapman has identified this Oxalis as O. orbicularis. (trifoliate leaves with a brown stripe down the center of each leaflet).

Unidentified Oxalis, entire plant, Garies, Republic of South Africa, Doug DawsonUnidentified Oxalis, leaflet detail, Garies, Republic of South Africa, Doug Dawson

Dee Foster posted this picture in the hope of ascertaining if it is virused?

Virused Veltheimia?, Dee Foster

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Page last modified on December 29, 2018, at 05:04 PM