Mystery Bulb Identified! - Fritillaria affinis

In August 8 2012, I harvested the bulb boxes I sowed two years prior with seeds of local wild flowers. I wrote about the initial sowing here, the harvesting here, and the subsequent planting out here.

I sowed four sets -- one of them a mystery - some labeling faux pas occurred somewhere along the line.

What the heck ... ?

As of early April, the Chlorogalum pomeridianum, soap root plant, are growing all over the place - the Calochortus albus, fairy lanterns, is growing in one shady spot, getting ready to bloom, and  Toxicoscordion Fremontii, Fremont's Star Lily is growing in two places, blooming in one. I'm pretty happy about them all!

But there was little sign of the mystery bulbs, which look like this:

Do you know what plant these will grow into?

Just one large leaf emerging from the ground, like the others I had seen in the bulb box.

Until recently the mystery bulbs had produced nothing but one fat leaf each.

And then -- in a pot - a thing I thought must have come from somewhere just by chance!!

Where did this come from?

And then - it bloomed!

Turns out it's Fritillaria affinis, checker lily

I'm so happy I can't stop looking at it. It's been a few days and the flowers are wilting - I'm not sure if I'll get seeds.

Thanks to this Curbstone Valley Farm post - which I got to by Googling "Fritillaria Santa Cruz"--  I connected the dots - or I should say the leaves! The broad single leaf is a "bulb leaf"which occurs in non-flowering plants.

This is not an unusual flower, really. It needs to be kept somewhat moist and cool in summer, and also needs excellent drainage. This flower was growing in pots that are in a regularly watered shady place.

My little story illustrates that plants don't have to be unusual to have a special place in our lives. It's taken me a couple years to learn what this mystery bulb is. Now I know what it wants to thrive, I can give it the care it needs, and, hopefully, I'll see a lot more of these lovelies.


ryan said…
That's great. Well done. Homegrown fritillaria from seed. I've never seen that one in a garden, not even at Tilden or the UC that I can remember. The flower looks really cool and interesting.
Jason said…
Wow, very unusual looking flower.
Oh, glad my post helped! I just refound my plants today. I always forget about them until I see them blooming again. The original plants are in bloom, and I saw a few bulb leaves today...the promise of more blooms to come some day. I love these flowers, although for the life of me I can't figure out how over more than 7 acres I only find them growing in about a 2 square foot area, and miraculously the deer (so far) haven't eaten them!
Nelson said…
"Wow, very unusual looking flower."

Couldn't agree more..