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Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum L.): Intrabulb Florogenesis and Forcing for Early Flowering

Sandler-Ziv, D., Fintea, C., Noy Porat, T., Kamenetsky, R., Mathew, D.
Acta horticulturae 2011 v. no.886 pp. 225-231
Leucojum aestivum, bulbs, container-grown plants, cut flowers, dormancy, environmental factors, flowering, flowers, landscaping, leaves, plant growth, rock gardens, scanning electron microscopy, spring, sprouting, summer, temperature, winter, Israel, Mediterranean region
Leucojum aestivum is a relatively small bulbous crop, usually grown for landscaping and rock gardens, but several varieties and selections are also used as cut flowers or potted plants. This species originates from the Mediterranean area, where summers are hot and dry, but winter conditions are favourable for plant growth and development. In Israel, sprouting begins in the fall, leaves and floral stalks elongate through the winter and spring, and summer dormancy is common. Annual development and florogenesis in L. aestivum under Israel conditions were studied using light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in the local selection, suitable for potted flowers. The bulb of perennial L. aestivum consists of two clusters (units), each including 5-7 leaves. The inflorescences of the first unit are initiated in February, during the active growth and flowering of the mother plant. During May-June, following formation of the 5-7 leaves of the second unit, one or two additional inflorescences might be initiated in the axis of the youngest leaf. Thus, during the summer rest period, four differentiated inflorescences were observed in the large bulbs. However, this potential depends on bulb size and environmental conditions. Pre-planting storage at 4°C delayed elongation of the flower stalk, whereas storage at 9 and 23°C resulted in faster elongation of the floral stalk, in comparison with storage in an open shed (temperatures 18-22/25-30°C, night/day). Further development of an effective forcing protocol for L. aestivum is needed in order to realize its flowering potential.