|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Calochortus (Greek for beautiful and grass). Liliaceae. Incl. Cyclobothra. Mariposa Lily. Star Tulip. Globe Tulip. West American cormous plants, the occidental representatives of Tulipa, useful as border plants and to some extent for indoor culture. Stem usually branched, and from a coated corm, more or less leafy: perianth of unequal segms., the outer ones the smaller and more or less sepal-like, the 3 inner ones large and showy and bearing glands and hairs; stigmas 3, sessile and recurved; stamens 6; fls. showy, shallow-cupped on the inner segms., arching.—From 40-50 species, mostly on the Pacific side of the continent from Wash. to Mex., and some of them in the interior country. Nearly all the species are in cult. Monogr. by J. G. Baker, Journ. Linn. Soc. 14:302-10 (1875); and by S. Watson, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sci. 14:262-8 (1879). See also Colochorti in the Sierra Nevada, by George Hansen, Erythea, 7:13-15; A. Davidson, Erythea, 2:1-2,27-30; Mallett. Gn. 1901, 60:412, vol. 61, pp. 185, 203, 220; Carl Purdy, Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 2, No. 4 (1901). Calochortuses extend into British America, and a few, belonging to a peculiar group, are found in Mexico; the remainder are natives of the United States, from Nebraska to the Pacific Ocean. While the generic characteristics are unmistakable, the species and even varieties have the most variable inclinations as to soil, exposure and climate. The Colorado Desert and the summits of the Sierra Nevada, the heavy clay lands of Californian valleys, the volcanic soils of the foothills and the meadows of the Northwest, each has its own representatives of this beautiful tribe. The character of the genus can be treated better under the various groups. Nearly every known species is in cultivation to some extent. Some are readily grown, others present considerable cultural difficulties; but while there are some that probably will always be difficult to cultivate, there are many species—and the number includes the very best—that can be grown successfully by anyone who is willing to give a little special care to them; and there are a few that possess such vigor and hardiness as to be adapted to extensive cultivation.
All calochortuses are hardy in the sense of withstanding extreme cold, but they will not endure alternate thawing and freezing nearly so well; and thus there is the paradox of their going safely through severe eastern or European winters and suffering the loss of foliage in mild ones. They should be planted in the fall, and it is better to plant late, so that leaf-growth is delayed until spring. Diverse as are their natural habitats, one soil will answer the needs of all. A light loam, made lighter with sand or sawdust, powdered charcoal, or spent tan-bark, is best. Excellent results have been secured with a mixture of equal parts of a good light loam and spent tan-bark, with a little broken charcoal. Wallace, one of the most successful English growers, recommends making a bed sloping to the south, composed of leaf-mold and road grit in equal parts, with a smaller proportion of sharp sand. The idea is to have a light and porous, not too stimulating soil, with perfect drainage. Wallace recommends covering the beds with reeds to throw off the heavy rains. The same end may be attained by such thorough drainage that the rains pass through quickly. In New York, they have been carried through the winter safely under a covering put on before the ground freezes hard. It is well to keep a few leaves about the shoots for a time and to have extra leaves at hand to be used when frost threatens. It is better to lift the bulbs as soon as they ripen, and replant in the fall. Water sparingly at all times. Under suitable conditions they are hardy and tenacious of life, but excessive moisture, either in air or ground, is not to their liking after the flowering season arrives. Theoretically, all calochortuses of Section A (star and globe tulips) should have shade, and all mariposas (AA) sunshine; but the light shade of a lath-house suits all alike, giving much finer bloom in the mariposas. The flowering season extends over three months, according to species.
They take well to pot culture with similar soils and treatment. While not to be forced rapidly, they considerably anticipate their out-of-door season. The same treatment can be used in coldframe culture, but they must not be coddled too much.CH
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