Seek to identify plant with narrow leaves and long flowering stalks

Gene Newcomb newcombg at ava.bcc.orst.edu
Wed Jan 12 14:10:48 EST 2000


I wonder if it isn't Cornithogalum longibracteatum (false sea onion). I
can't open the larger tiff pictures, but it looks likely from the small
shots.
American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Garden Plants says:
"Bulbous perennial with lax, strap-shaped, semi-succulent, pale green,
basal leaves, to 24 in. (60 cm) long. In summer, bears tall racemes of
up to 300 bell-shaped white flowers, to 1/2 in. (1.5 cm) across, striped
green outside, with bracts extending far beyone the flowers." Height is
listed as 3-5 ft. Tropical and South Africa.

Gene
Botany, Oregon State University

Robin Boswell wrote:

>    I would be grateful if anyone could help identify the
> plant described below. You can find photos at
>
>      http://www.scms.rgu.ac.uk/staff/rab/plants.html
>
> which I suspect will be of more use than a written description,
> but here goes.  The most prominent feature of the plant
> is its monstrous "stalks", inviting comparison with
> a triffid.
>
>   It started life as a flattish green "bulb" (probably
> not the right term) of about 1.5cm diameter, with one
> end slightly more pointed than the other.  After a
> couple of years, the bulb was about 6cm wide, with
> the top half visible above the earth.  Numbers of shiny
> green leaves emerged, currently reaching a length of over 1m,
> and a width of just over 2cm at the widest point.  These
> initially grew upwards, but didn't have the strength to do so
> for long, later curling downwards and dangling.
> During the summer, rapidly growing stalks emerged from the bulb.
> which, given a window to lean against, were able to reach
> a height of 1.5 m or so. In ideally warm and sunny conditions,
> up to three stalks can appear over the course of one summer.
> A green "head of corn"(?) may appear at the end of a stalk,
> later blossoming into a strip of small white flowers.  Since
> the stalk is still growing, the flowering portion can
> eventually stretch to a length of 30 cm or so, though by
> that time most of the flowers are dead.
>
>   New small bulbs appear at the edge of the main bulb and can
> be broken off.  If placed in damp earth they can be used to
> propogate the plant.  If you don't break them off they
> sprout where they are, creating a luxuriant or untidy mess,
> depending on one's point of view.
>
>   I was given the original bulbs by a friend who didn't know
> what they were either,
>
>                Thank you for any suggestions,
>
>                         Robin Boswell.





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