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[
This is a cytologically and morphologically variable species, with large-flowered forms found in wet places; smaller, scabrous forms found in dry places; forms with rather long pedicels (sometimes recognized as var. lactea); and forms with filaments lacking dilated triangular bases[
Allium lacteum (Lindl.) Benth.
Allium tilingii Regel
Brodiaea dissimulate M.Peck
Brodiaea grandiflora Pursh
Brodiaea hyacinthina (Lindl.) Baker
Brodiaea lactea (Lindl.) S.Watson
Hesperoscordum hyacinthium Lindl.
Hesperoscordum lacteum Lindl.
Hesperoscordum lewisii Hook.
Hookera hyacinthina (Lindl.) Kuntze
Milla hyacinthina (Lindl.) Baker
Scaduakintos umbellaris Raf.
Veatchia crystallina Kellogg
Common Name: Hyacinth Brodiaea
Flowering plants in the University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley, California, USA
Photograph by: Stan Shebs
Triteleia hyacinthina is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from an underground corm. It produces 1 - 3 grass-like leaves 10 - 40cm long and a flowering scape 30 - 60cm tall[
]. The corm produces offsets, 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.
Western N. America - British Columbia, Washington, western Idaho, Oregon and California.
Grasslands; grassy, often rocky open flats; mid-montane meadows; vernally wet meadows; occasionally on drier slopes; at elevations up to 2,000 metres[
|Cultivation Status||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, otherwise it is best grown in a bulb frame[
The corm produces contractile roots which can pull the corm deeper into the soil[
There are two basic forms of this species, a large white-flowered form grows wild in wet places whilst a smaller form is found on drier slopes[
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[
]. Rich in starch, the bulb can be used like potatoes[
]. An emergency food, it is only used when all else fails[
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.