Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Naked Lady

Naked Lady is one of the common names for Lycoris squamigera, though if you google the plant, your results will be more...botanical if you search using the scientific name. This is especially recommended if you have a public workspace.

Lycoris is a bulb that blooms this time of year and is perhaps too often placed in the 'oddity' category and ignored as a wonderful late-summer addition to a garden. Like most bulbs, this plant puts out basal foliage in the spring. As the weather warms up, the foliage withers and dies, leaving what would appear to be virgin ground. Then, when August nears, erect stems rise from the ground...

...and in a matter of days, the plant bursts forth with a profusion of four to six blossoms per stem:

This plant has multiplied consistently in the six or so years since I planted it at my parents' place. This fall, I'll definitely need to divide it (or conscript my father to do it).

The photos above were taken shortly after an intense summer storm so you can see that the plant is quite resilient, too.

The plant is named for a Roman actress, who was also the mistress of Marc Antony. I suppose you can make some assumptions about why this name was applied. Squamigera means 'bearing scales' which likely refers to the bulb itself, which can appear scaly.

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