robustum is somewhat an enigma. I've long awaited
to receive the true plant, and finally have bulbs in bloom that
bear this name from a reputable source. But I'm still
undecided, as the plants fail to meet specific characteristics
reported in the few floras that cover the species. After ordering
and growing 3 bulbs (they're not cheap!), three distinctly different
plant forms have resulted.
The best of the 3 is this one, with deep red-purple flowers
in a compact head, atop a 26" (65 cm) tall stem, above 2-3
linear grayish leaves, 2" wide x 8-12" long (5 cm wide x 20-30
cm long). The leaf width is far greater than described for the
species, which is a mere 2-10 mm wide, so this plant is
about 5x the leaf width attributed to the species.
The 2nd bulb, looks similar, except the stem is only 12"
(30 cm) tall, with a smaller head of lighter rose flowers. The
3rd bulb is most definitely a hybrid... appearing intermediate
between this species and perhaps karataviense, with a
single blue-gray leaf up to 3" (7.5 cm) broad like a thinned-
out karataviense, and an 18" stem and deep rose flowers.
Given that the plants in cultivation derive from seedling-
grown nursery stock (originally from Central Asia), I must
conclude that hybridization has been at work here.
Photos by Mark
(taken May 2002)
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and textual content copyright © 2000 Mark McDonough
page was last updated on 05/21/02