F. acmopetela

Lebanese or
Cyprian Missionbells

   

We planted two flattish little bulbs of Fritillaria acmopetala amidst fifteen Camas Flower bulbs in a sun-garden on a sharply draining raised garden ledge, with a big 'Jeanne Marie de Montague' Rhododendron as backdrop.

This Fritillary is native of Cyprus, Northwest Turkey, & coast of Lebanon, where it likes best to grow in pine barrons & scrubland.

F. acmopetelaIt is easy to grow in zones six through eight, in full sun & moist but sharply draining soil. As it reproduces, the bulbs produce numerous offsets resembling rice.

It can reproduce the rice-grain offsets quite rapidly, besides self-seeding, so can be very good at naturalizing. If soil is always a little moist, the grass does not need to die back into summer dormancy. It is not terribly drought tolerant compared to the majority of fritillaries.

In late March, as shown in the first photo, it shoots up grassy stems, simultaneously uncoiling dangling "hangman" buds about three-fourths of the way up each grassy stem. At this time the camas it is planted amidst is still a fine, short grass.

They grow fifteen or twenty inches tall, although there is also a smaller subspecies offered by specialists in unusual bulbs, F. acmopetala wendelboi.

The Cyprian Missionbells are in full flower by early April, with one to three flowers per stem. In warmer zones it will be in full bloom in March.

The dangling flowers start out being almost entirely green, as in the second early April photo. These blooms age with the outer petals remaining olive to jade green, the inner petals turning a dusty purple-brown or mahogany, so that it takes on a broadly striped look. These bells have an unusual flare at the bottom.

Although this species has only recently returned to the market, it is an heirloom choice well known to previous generations of gardeners, going back to 1874.

   



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