Thursday, December 31, 2009

Native Daffodil

Calostemma luteum
Family: AMARYLLIDACEAE
The native daffodils began to come into flower just before Christmas. Unlike the introduced bulbs, all our local native bulbs flower in summer rather than in spring.
These plants are daffodil-yellow, but in form they are more like scentless jonquils. It’s something of a puzzle as to why they are not grown more often in Australian gardens, as they are very attractive plants.
Not all the flowers open at once, so you don’t get a good flower for vase use, as you do with jonquils - you do get a longer flowering time per head. For a good display in the garden, quite a few bulbs are needed.
The flowers are followed by shiny green bulbils, which drop off and germinate on the soil surface if they find a damp and shady niche. Otherwise, they need a little help from a friend. In two years, they develop large bulbs which pull themselves down about 20cm under the soil, and then proceed to flower for many years, dying down every winter, and reappearing in early summer.
They are only moderately drought hardy. Young plants need quite frequent watering in their first year of life. Mature bulbs are hardier, but for best results they need a good soaking in November, and another one or two as the flowers die down and the leaves feed their nutrients back into the bulbs.

(There is also a pink Calostemma, which grows naturally in western NSW, north-western Victoria, and South Australia. It is sometimes classified as a variety of C. luteum, and sometimes as a separate species, C. purpureum. Its flowers don’t open as widely as those of our local yellow one, but it’s a pretty thing nonetheless, and a more drought-hardy plant than our local.)

8 comments:

bulborum said...

Its a beauty

I think I know why Australian bulbs are so unknown
I am searching over 3 months for Crinum flaccidum luteolum
I could not find one nursery growing them
Do you know growers from Australian bulbs ??

Roland

Patricia Gardner said...

No, I don't.
I looked on the internet and the only site I could find, offering them for sale, was an American one!
Sad, isn't it?
I can only suggest you join the Australia Native Plant Society (if you're not already a member) - see asgap.org.au/
I think you would be very likely to contact other bulb enthusiasts through them, and probably source the bulbs you want.
Trish

bulborum said...

We are 10 months later now Patricia
and still nobody found
I can't believe nobody grows this beauty
there is a job to do to promote this plant
also the callostemma's
are there no serious nurseries in Australia ?

Roland

bulborum@ ANTISPAM gmail.com

Patricia Gardner said...

Where do you live Roland? In Australia?
Trish

bulborum said...

Hello Trish

I forgot to answer this post
sorry for that

I am in France Europe
but are on the My garden forum in Australia

Patricia Gardner said...

Hullo again.
Yes, I know it can be difficult to find people interested in exporting Australian native plants. Perhaps many of them, like me, are more interested in the practice of growing native plants in their own place in the world, than in importing and exporting them from one country to another.
If I were to come to France, the only plants that would interest me there would be your native French plants, and I think this is a growing trend. People are realising that the fashion for plant collecting has led people the world over to develop an enthusiasm for growing foreign plants , while their own native plants have dwindled quietly into a state of neglect.
However, I wish you well with your search.
Trish

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by this conversation Patricia and bulborum. I live in Melbourne in southern Australia, some 1500 km from Toowoomba where Patricia is in northern Australia. I am a keen grower of Australian native plants and have been a member of the Australian Plant Society for close to 40 years. I have also had a fascination for bulbs and bulbous plants , of which there are very few species naturally occurring in Australia (probably not much more than 10). Consequently, it has been very hard all these years to marry my two interests! Of course making it much more difficult is the tyranny of distance - the couple of Crinum species we have for instance occur naturally in quite remote, often desert regions (C flaccidum, C luteolum) and quite frankly, collecting specimens or seeds for growing on would be a major botanical expedition. The only real chance of obtaining material would be to make contact with someone of like interests living in the general vicinity of their natural habitat and unfortunately, as Australia is such a vast continent with such a sparse population in these regions, the chances of this from my experience are very slim. Not withstanding, persistence pays off and after all these years, I finally tracked down some very expensive seed of Crinum luteolum last year. I am yet to track down Calostemma luteum but I will keep searching.

Patricia Gardner said...

Yet the members of the various Societies for Growing Australian Plants have been handing them from member to member for years.
Nurseries don't see them as very desirable commercial plants, because of the difficulty of bringing them to flowering-point in pots. What's needed are a few enthusiasts who would be prepared to nurture a plot of them for five years or so, in a few public places or prize gardens, until they are a really eye-catching display.
This would do wonders for publicising them and perhaps create a demand which specialist nurseries might look to filling.
Trish