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Puschkinia Scilloides - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Puschkinia Scilloides - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Puschkinia Scilloides Described.

Puschkinia Scilloides - Scilla-like Puschkinia, or Striped Squill; Syns. P. Libanotica, Adamsia Scilloides; Nat. Ord. Liliaceæ.

As all its names, common and botanical, denote, this charming bulbous plant is like the scillas; it may, therefore, be useful to point out the distinctions which divide them. They are (in the flowers) to be seen at a glance; within the spreading perianth there is a tubular crown or corona, having six lobes and a membranous fringe. This crown is connected at the base of the divisions of the perianth, which divisions do not go to the base of the flower, but form what may be called an outer tube. In the scilla there is no corona, neither a tube, but the petal-like sepals or divisions of the perianth are entire, going to the base of the flower. There are other but less visible differences which need not be further gone into. Although there are but two or three known species of the genus, we have not only a confusion of names, but plants of another genus have been mistaken as belonging to this. Mr. Baker, of Kew, however, has put both the plants and names to their proper belongings, and we are no longer puzzled with a chionodoxa under the name of Puschkinia. This Lilywort came from Siberia in 1819, and was long considered a tender bulb in this climate, and even yet by many it is treated as such. With ordinary care—judicious planting—it not only proves hardy, but increases fast. Still, it is a rare plant, and very seldom seen, notwithstanding its great beauty. It was named by Adams, in honour of the Russian botanist, Count Puschkin, whence the two synonymous names Puschkinia and Adamsia; there is also another name, specific, which, though still used, has become discarded by authorities, viz., P. Libanotica—this was supposed to be in reference to one of its habitats being on Mount Lebanon. During mild winters it flowers in March, and so delicately marked are its blossoms that one must always feel that its beauties are mainly lost from the proverbial harshness of the season.

At the height of 4in. to 8in. the flowers are produced on slender bending scapes, the spikes of blossom are arranged one-sided; each flower is ½in. to nearly 1in. across, white, richly striped with pale blue down the centre, and on both sides of the petal-like divisions. The latter are of equal length, lance-shaped, and finely reflexed; there is a short tube, on the mouth of which is joined the smaller one of the corona. The latter is conspicuous from the reflexed condition of the limb of the perianth, and also from its lobes and membranous fringe being a soft lemon-yellow colour. The pedicels are slender and distant, causing the flower spikes, which are composed of four to eight flowers, to have a lax appearance. The leaves are few, 4in. to 6in. long, lance-shaped, concave, but flatter near the apex, of good substance and a dark green colour; bulb small.

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Puschkinia Scilloides

As already stated, a little care is needed in planting this choice bulbous subject. It enjoys a rich, but light soil. It does not so much matter whether it is loamy or of a vegetable nature if it is light and well drained; and, provided it is planted under such conditions and in full sunshine, it will both bloom well and increase. It may be propagated by division of the roots during late summer, when the tops have died off; but only tufts having a crowded appearance should be disturbed for an increase of stock.

Flowering period, March to May.

P. s. compacta is a variety of the above, having a stronger habit and bolder flowers. The latter are more numerous, have shorter pedicels, and are compactly arranged in the spike—whence the name. Culture, propagation, and flowering time, same as last.

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