Genetics matter

Last week, we were chatting on-line with one of our lycoris experts from China about the different forms of Lycoris aurea, when they mentioned the different foliage types that could be found in each region of China where the plant occurs. I should mention that the yellow-flowering Lycoris aurea has the widest native range of all lycoris species, from low elevation in north central China, all the way south into Thailand. Because of its mostly southerly distribution, it is the least cold hardy species of surprise lily.

Included in JLBG’s large lycoris collection, we currently grow several clones from both Guizhou and HuBei provinces of China. Indeed, those from Guizhou have much wider, more glaucous leaves, while the HuBei forms have narrower, glossy green leaves. In checking our records, we almost never have flowers produced on the HuBei forms, because the foliage is much more tender and is consistently is damaged in winter, preventing it from producing enough energy for the bulb to flower. The Guizhou forms flower much more consistently for us. Sadly most plant vendors don’t distinguish details about the origin of the material they sell. Granted, it may not matter in some cases, but in others, it could make the difference between flowers and no flowers.

Lycoris aurea foliage (Guizhou form – top; HuBei form – bottom)

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