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 bicolor Suksd.
Brodiaea douglasii S.Watson
Brodiaea howellii S.Watson
Hookera bicolor (Suksd.) Piper
Hookera douglasii (S.Watson) Piper
Hookera howellii (S.Watson) Piper
Milla grandiflora (Lindl.) Baker
Triteleia bicolor (Suksd.) A.Heller
Triteleia howellii (S.Watson) Greene
Tulophos grandiflora (Lindl.) Raf.
Common Name: Wild Hyacinth
Flowering stems, growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Matt Lavin
Triteleia grandiflora is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from an underground corm. It produces 1 - 3 grass-like leaves 20 - 70cm long and a flowering scape 20 - 75cm 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 grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Western N. America - British Columbia and Montana, south to northern California, Idaho and Utah
Dry to moist soils, often in rocky areas, meadows, or open woods of valleys, hills and in mountains; at elevations to 2,700 metres[
]. Grasslands, sagebrush, pinyon-juniper woodlands, pine forests and hills; at elevations from 100 - 3,000 metres[
|Ornamental, Semi-cultivated, Wild
Requires a rich well-drained sandy loam[
]. Likes plenty of moisture whilst in growth followed by a warm dry period in late summer and autumn[
]. Succeeds outdoors in a very sheltered warm position.
The corm produces contractile roots which can pull the corm deeper into the soil[
Plants grow in patches in the wild and these can cover considerable areas[
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[
Bulb - raw or cooked[
]. A sweet nut-like flavour[
], they can be used like potatoes. Said by some people to be the tastiest of the North American edible bulbs[
]. At their best when slow roasted for an hour when they become rather sweet[
Young seedpods - cooked as a potherb[
]. An excellent green[
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.