73. Brodiaea


Brodiaea is popularly known as cluster lily. It is also known as Harvest Brodiaea and Elegant Cluster Lily. It is a native of California and Oregon and grows in meadows and woodlands.

Brodiaea species are herbaceous perennials which produce a stout stem-like inflorescence 50 c.m tall! Between one and six narrow leaves are produced from the corm.

The flowering stem carries showy and attractive flowers in shades of purple! Flowers are 10 c.m long and have six curving petals. The flowers are late bloomers and are seen in the month of May. Their leaves are narrow and long.

Individual flowers have six blue to purple tepals joined at the base to form a tube with free lobes at the mouth. The outer three tepal lobes are narrower than the inner three.

Inside the tepals and joined to their bases are three sterile stamens resembling small petals, each opposite one of the outer tepals. Three normal stamens are also joined to the bases of the tepals and are placed opposite the inner ones.

The base of the filaments of the stamens may be expanded into various shapes, such as flaps or wings. The size and shape of the structures at the base of the filaments help to identify the species.

Brodiaea species are confined to western North America, with California exhibiting the majority of species. Many species are adapted to soils with particular chemical compositions, resulting in endangered species.

A number of species of Brodiaea are in cultivation in sunny positions in the garden, where they extend the flowering season to early summer . The flower heads of larger species can be dried for use as winter decorations.

The small onion-like bulbs of this plant were eaten by the native Americans. They called it “grass nuts”.

Visalakshi Ramani

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