Monday, December 17, 2007

Chionodoxa Forbesii... The Smallest Tagalong

Chionodoxa (Greek chiona=snow, doxa=glory) is called glory of the snow because it blooms early enough in its mountainous, rocky haunts in western Turkey down into Crete and Cyprus, that it often blooms through the snow. Here in topographically deprived Iowa it more often blooms through the dead brown leaves, so incites no raptures of glory, but makes pretty little drifts, with its tiny flowers of pastel blue showing up everywhere. This is another interloper actually; hiding in the rootballs of other plants that I brought here from my first garden. The white and pink forms came along for good measure, and they all spread around in mixed patches. My bulbs specifically are Chionodoxa forbesii; however the species was named Chionodoxa luciliae when I bought them, and the pink form (now called Chionodoxa 'Pink Giant') was called Chionodoxa gigantea then. You probably don't need to remember any of this, as there is talk of putting the half dozen species of chionodoxa into the genus scilla, the squills, which these little plants greatly resemble (and can interbreed with).
Chionodoxa forbesii would be considered invasive if it wasn't so darn small... and so cute. They usually bloom here about late March, with the crocuses, at the tail-end of the early snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) and just as the blue Siberian squills are starting to open, when the sun is beginning to warm the soil and the chickadees are whistling their plaintive spring call from the wooded hills.
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