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Puschkinia close up

Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica (Puschkinia variety)

March 28, 2019

The spectacle of thousands of blue-flowered glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa sardensis) captures the attention at Wave Hill at this time of the year, but tucked away in odd corners are small pockets of some closely related plants with equally enchanting blooms.

Among them is Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica (a type of striped squill). It has white flowers that are marked with a distinct, blue stripe in the middle of each tepal(petal). Small clusters of it can be seen in the border below the stone wall to the south of the Wild Garden. In the same border is Scilla mischtschenkoana (syn. Scilla tubergeniana), another striped squill with blue-striped pale flowers. The two are very similar but can be distinguished by their anther filaments—the little stalks that support the anthers at the middle of each flower.

For Puschkinia chionodoxa close up
For Puschkinia Scillia close up

Puschkinia is named in honor of Count Apollos Mussin-Puschkin (1760-1805), a Russian chemist and plant collector, while the specific epithet of Scilla mischtschenkoana honors another Russian botanist, Pavel Mishchenko (1869-1938).

Lastly, in the next few days you might spot something that looks exactly like glory-of-the-snow but with completely white, not blue, flowers. There is indeed a white glory-of-the-snow—Chionodoxa luciliae f. alba—and we have patches of it under the hornbeam hedge near the Aquatic Garden and in other places around the grounds. The shot here was taken one spring along the trail in the Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland.

For Puschkinia Woodlands credit Wave Hill

By Charles Day, Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter