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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Leucojum vernum


Subkingdom Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)
Superdivision Spermatophyta (Seed plants)
Division Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
Class Liliopsida (Monocotyledons)
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Liliaceae (Lily family)
Genus Leucojum L. (snowflake)
Species Leucojum vernum L. (spring snowflake,
St. Joseph's Bells)

A very ornamental plant. The flowers have a powerful scent that is likened by some to hawthorns and by others to violets.

Leucojum derives from the Greek for "white violet [the flower]". The snowflakes are native to southern Europe, from the Pyrenées to Romania and western Russia, but they have been introduced and have naturalized in many other areas, including the east coast of North America. They have narrow, strap-like, dark green leaves. The flowers are small and bell-shaped, white with a green (or occasionally yellow) spot at the end of each petal. They have a slight fragrance. It is in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen in July. The scented flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Two varieties of Leucojum vernum are known: L. vernum var. carpathicum originates from the eastern part of its natural range and is a larger plant with yellowish spots on its petals rather than green; L. vernum var. vagneri from Hungary is a robust plant, often with two flowers per stem.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It requires moist soil.

The Summer Snowflake has a wider natural range, taking in Europe, southwest Asia and northern Iran, and growing in wetter habitats including damp woodland, riversides and swamps. Despite its common name it also flowers from March to May, though slightly later than the Spring Snowflake. It is a taller plant than Leucojum vernum, growing to around 60 cm (2 ft), but its flowers are smaller and are carried in an umbel of between three and seven. Its fleshy seed pods are inflated, allowing them to be dispersed by flood water.

Easily grown in ordinary garden soil. Prefers an open rich moist limy soil. Succeeds in shade or semi-shade. If naturalizing in short grass, a light, well-drained soil is essential. The dormant bulbs are fairly hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -5°c.

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a well-drained soil in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification, it should then germinate in 2 - 4 weeks at 10°c. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be allowed to grow on undisturbed in the pots for their first year of growth. Give them an occasional weak liquid feed to ensure that they do not become nutrient deficient. Pot up the small bulbs when dormant, planting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another 2 - 3 years before planting them out.

View More Beautiful Pictures of Leucojum vernum


Friday, May 25, 2007

Fritillaria imperialis


Subkingdom Tracheobionta
Superdivision Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Liliopsida
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Liliaceae
Genus Fritillaria L.
Species Fritillaria imperialis L.

Fritillaria imperialis, common name: Imperial crown or Fritilaria, has brightly colored, showy clusters of flowers.

Fritillaria is a genus of about 100 species of bulbous plants in the family Liliaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They often have nodding, bell- or cup-shaped flowers, and the majority are spring-flowering. The name is from Latin fritillus, a dice-box, and probably refers to the checkered pattern, frequently of chocolate-brown and greenish yellow, that is common to many species' flowers.

Several species (such as Fritillaria cirrhosa and Fritillaria verticillata) are used in traditional Chinese cough remedies. They are listed as chuan bei (Chinese: 川貝) or zhe bei (Chinese: 浙貝), respectively, and are often in formulations combined with extracts of loquat.

The Crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) is a member of the genus Fritillaria, family Liliaceae. It is native to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and the Himalaya region. It is one of the earliest plants to be cultivated. It grows to about 1 meter (3 feet) in height, and bears lance shaped, glossy leaves, at intervals along the stem. It bears a prominent whorl of downward facing flowers at the top of the stem. The flower whorl is topped by a 'crown' of small leaves, hence the name. While the wild form is usually red flowered, various colours are found in cultivation, ranging through the reds, oranges, and yellows.

The pendulous flowers make a bold statement in the garden and the odor scares away mice, moles, and other rodents. In the northern hemisphere, flowering takes place in late April or May. Due to the way that the bulb is formed, it is best to plant it on its side, to prevent water causing rot in the depression at the top of the bulb. Fritillaria requires full sun for best growth. After flowering and complete drying of the leaves, the stems should be cut off just above the ground.

Fast Facts
  • Origin: it grows from Turkey to the Himalayas.
  • Habitat: the Fritillaria sort is of wild rocky hill land form next to the Mediterranean coast.
  • In gardening they are cultivated in the outside, like solitary flowers or forming small pebbles groups, under shrubs or as borduras in pools.
  • The imperial Crown continues being popular thanks to its imposing presence: a high plant (80-100 cm) with short chalices of orange, yellow flowers péndulas or red, underneath a crown of brácteas.
  • Light: it does not like to be to total sun, but in average shade.
  • Temperatures: it prefers a warm location.
  • Permeable and rich Ground in humus.

See more photos and notes from Botany Photo Of the Day