24 November 2008

Sissy What?

The great clean out of 2008 continues. Books are being listed on PaperbackSwap and donated to the local library for their book sales. Today boxes of books are going to a college in Tulsa for their graduate students' benefit.

There are also short stacks of those magazines you get when you join plant societies. Each year I join a different one or two to see what's going on.

In the October issue of the Iris Society Bulletin, there are 10 or 15 photos of Sisyrinchiums, otherwise known by names such as Blue Eyed Grass.

One featured plant in the article, Olsynium junceum, has a pale pale lavender flower with deeper lavender stripes. Other names are: Sisyrinchium Quaint and Queer, E K Balls, Devon Skies, Rocky Point, and then several Latin names like S. striatum. Gotta love those.

All of the Sisyrinchiums in these photos are available for purchase from Plant Delights Nursery online. The photos are theirs as well. Click to enlarge or go to their site.
Characteristically, Sisyrinchiums have leaves like an iris. They are members of the same plant family.
The S. palmifolium flower heads are more like other bulbs you have seen in public gardens and maybe in your own.

Edmund and Rita Heaton, the authors and photographers for the article said that some garden show visitors have declared their precious Sisyrinchiums to be weeds.

They say in the article that they began collecting 25-years ago and now have 250 different species and cultivars, including the related Olsynium and Solenomelus. They also have 26-genera of Tigridieae Tribe, Neomarica, Trimezia and seudotrimezia, Habranthus and
Zephyranthes (also known as Rain Lily).

Tidbits from their writing -
The Sisyrinchium genus has the greatest longitudinal range of any member of the Iridaceae (Iris) family.
They vary in height from 1-inch to over five-feet tall.
Sisyrinchium species are originally from Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, southeastern US, Uruguay, Canada - indeed a wide range of horticultural zones.
Their favorite is Devon Skies, which arose spontaneously in their yard. It is 6-inches tall, compact and its flowers are intense blue.

Dragon's Eye, from California, has large pale lavender petals with plum-purple veins. Quaint and Queer has alternate segmens of beige and purple-brown with a yellow eye; grows to one-foot tall.

Olsynium is related to Sisyninchium but blooms earlier. Their favorites are O. douglasii with an American name of Satin Flower. It's native to the west coast of the US.

The white Olsynium filifolium is native to Chile and the Falkland Islands where it is the national flower.

They grow in lush meadows, volcanic sites, bogs, swamps; acid and alkaline soil. Constantly wet feet will doom them though.

Like other iris family members, they thrive best if dug and divided every few years.

This quote is essential, "Most Sisyrinchium and Olsynium species currently available grow easily from seed." (Oh, goodie, I thought.) Then, this, "However, patience is needed for Sisyrinchium palmifolium as this species can take up to 18-months to germinate...."

Supposedly there are varieties for zones 5 through 10.
Are you growing any of these? Did you try any from seed? Do tell!

Swallowtail Garden Seeds has Blue Eyed Grass seeds - 75 for $3.00;
Prairie Moon Nursery sells the roots - $4.
But, I'm curious about the other 249 species. What do you have and how well do they thrive in your gardens?

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