Several species of Triteleia are exceedingly variable, and polyploidy is common: multiples of both x = 7 and x = 8 occur, suggesting that chromosomal changes have played a significant evolutionary role within the genus[
Brodiaea candida (Greene) Baker
Brodiaea laxa (Benth.) S.Watson
Hookera laxa (Benth.) Kuntze
Milla laxa (Benth.) Baker
Seubertia laxa (Benth.) Kunth
Seubertia obscura Borzí
Triteleia angustiflora A.Heller
Triteleia candida Greene
Tulophos laxa (Benth.) Raf.
Common Name: Grassnut
White-flowered form growing at the University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley, California, USA
Photograph by: Stan Shebs
Triteleia laxa is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from an underground corm. It produces 1 - 3 grass-like leaves 20 - 40cm long and a flowering scape 10 - 70cm tall[
]. The corm produces offsets freely, so that eventually a cluster of plants grow together.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. The native N. American people would often harvest the corms in quantity and used to semi-manage the areas where the plant grew in order to ensure a sustainable harvest. The plant is often grown as an ornamental in gardens[
South-western N. America- California, ?Oregon.
Heavy soils in many habitats; at elevations up to 1,400 metres[
]. Open forests, mixed conifer or foothill woodlands, grasslands on clay soils; at elevations from sea level to 1,500 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Semi-cultivated, Wild
Succeeds outdoors in a warm position[
], requiring a rich well-drained sandy loam[
]. Likes plenty of moisture whilst in growth followed by a warm dry period in late summer and autumn[
The corm produces contractile roots which can pull the corm deeper into the soil[
When harvesting the corms from the wild, the native N. Americans followed a few simple rules to ensure that there would be good harvests in future years. Firstly, they would not harvest all the plants, making sure there were mature seed-producing plants the following year. When harvesting the corms, they would replant any smaller corms attached to the large one. Harvesting would usually take place after the plants had produced seed, also harvesting the seed and scattering it in suitable places. They would also periodically burn the area where the plants were growing whilst the plants were dormant, thus reducing competition from other species[
A polymorphic species[
Bulb - raw or cooked[
]. A sweet flavour[
]. Rich in starch, the bulb can be used like potatoes[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Alternatively, the seed can be sown in spring in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 15°c. Sow the seed thinly so that there is no need to prick them out and grow the seedlings on in the pot for their first year. Give an occasional liquid feed to ensure that they do not become mineral deficient. Seedlings are prone to damping off so be careful not to overwater them and keep them well ventilated. When they become dormant, pot up the small bulbs placing about 3 in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for another year or two until the bulbs are about 20mm in diameter and then plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant in the autumn.
Division of flowering size bulbs in autumn. Dig up the clumps of bulbs, replanting the larger ones direct into their permanent positions. It is best to pot up the smaller ones and grow them on in a greenhouse for a year before planting them out when they are dormant in early autumn.