Plant of the day: harvest brodiaea

Here is one of the leggy purple flowers of the grasslands. The funnel-shaped blossom sprawls open as it ages, revealing three pale spatula-like staminoides.  The narrow stalk is leafless, and branches into a loose umbel of a few flowers.

Harvest brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans) is one of only two brodiaeas in Marin, but there are several others in the greater bay area – e.g. California brodiaea, Hoover’s brodiaea, and crown brodiaea. Dwarf brodiaea is the other kind that grows in Marin.

In the dormant season, this perennial flower dies back to an underground corm, which is the bulb-like structure pictured above (I say bulb-like because a bulb is actually made of modified leaves, like an onion, whereas a corm is solid all the way through. And as long as I’m getting technical, I may as well point out that a corm is not a root. It’s a modified bit of the plant’s stem that serves to store food and help it survive the winter. The actual roots branch off from the bottom of the corm.)

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Filed under Good for gardens, Native, Plant of the day

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