Friday, February 06, 2009

The Littlest Snowflake

A small snowflake correction to my posting of February 2nd (though on a technicality I can say I wasn't really wrong): I stated that the only snowflake (leucojum) that I have previously had growing in my garden is the summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum (of course, we hope also now to have newly planted Leucojum vernum appearing in a few weeks)... in fact, I also have had the autumn snowflake (autumnale) shown above blooming in the fall.
However, as I stated above, I may have been right on a technicality not to include the autumn snowflake in my previous post, as it is no longer a leucojum; it and six of its cohorts have been moved into a different genus, and this bulb is now Acis autumnale. These plants were split off from leucojum on the basis that they (Acis) have narrow leaves, hollow stems, and unmarked flowers. So, the autumn snowflake is no longer a leucojum; is it still a snowflake... I don't know. I may also be right in having excluded this plant from my post, as I wouldn't bet I still have it growing (we'll see, if the snow ever melts). It should not survive here; it has surprised so far, but I am pretty sure it will eventually catch a cold or something, and leave me with fond memories and a tiny empty spot in the garden. I wouldn't normally have even tried this bulb in the first place in the open garden in Iowa, as it is native to Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, and Sicily, and it puts out its foliage in the fall, which expects to persist over winter; all of which would suggest an outcome here in Iowa that is contained in a three letter word: D-E-D! The only reason I have this bulb is that I thought I was buying Acis nicaeense, a rarity which blooms in the spring, and thus seemed to offer a tiny ray of hope that, if kept dry, it might survive here. Nicaeense has flowers a little more open (bell-like), and looks from pictures like it has slightly coarser, gray-green foliage. My bulb on the other hand blooms in September, with very narrow, grass green foliage, and tiny little funnel shaped flowers, coarsely fringed and with a reddish-purple staining at the base, typical of the commoner autumnale. Even if I had the true nicaeense, it's dubious it would persist here either, as that species is endemic to only a tiny area of southeast France and northwest Italy, right along the Mediterranean; about as far removed in climate from midwest corn country as you could imagine.
So, in conclusion I'm not always very accurate on this blog, but I am a demon correcter!

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LOL -- it's a sweet thing.
What a pretty little snowflake!
Nancy & GardenGirl.... this is the single most delicate little flower in the whole garden.
Being from Spain, Italy and Sicily, it's interesting that it should have the name nicaeense, since that refers to the city of Nicaea (Modern-day Iznik), in Turkey! What were the taxonomists thinking? :) BTW there's a post on some wild plants in the Nicaea area on my blog, which were taken in the fall. I didn't see that but sure would have remembered it if I had!
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