Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in deciduous woodlands. The flowers are attractive in appearance and they have a lovely fragrance. Siberian Squill doesn't conform to the popular stereotype of a 'weed.' However, because this introduced plant that has the potential to displace native plants, many ecologists would regard it as a weedy plant for this reason, regardless of its attractiveness and ephemeral nature. Siberian Squill has a distinctive appearance and is easy to identify. It differs from Camassia spp. (Wild Hyacinths) in having stiffer leaves and by producing only a single nodding flower on each stalk. Some varieties of Siberian Squill may produce racemes of 2-3 flowers on some stalks, but such racemes are shorter and have fewer flowers than the racemes of Wild Hyacinths. While the tepals of Siberian Squill are single-veined, the tepals of Wild Hyacinths usually have 3 veins and their flowers don't nod downward.
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Description

This introduced perennial plant consists of a rosette of semi-erect basal leaves about 6" tall or less. At maturity, these leaves are about 5" long and ¾" across. They are linear-oblong, hairless, shiny green, and smooth along the margins, tapering to a blunt point. Usually, each mature leaf rolls upward from the middle toward the margins along its length. One or more flowering stalks are produced from the center of the rosette. These narrow stalks are up to 6" long, leafless, and often purplish green. Each stalk curves downward at its apex and bears a single nodding flower. The flowers are about 1" across, consisting of 6 blue tepals, 6 stamens with blue anthers, and a green pistil with an undivided style. Each tepal is oblong-linear and has a single vein of dark blue running along its length. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. There is a strong floral fragrance that is quite pleasant. The seed capsules are oval-orbicular in shape and bumpy across the surface. They are initially green, but eventually turn brown, each one containing several seeds. The root system consists of a small bulb with secondary roots. This plant often forms vegetative colonies by offsets.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Siberian Squill is an uncommon plant that occurs in only a few counties in Illinois, primarily in the east-central region of the state. It was introduced into the United States from Eurasia as a horticultural plant because of its attractive flowers. Habitats include disturbed grassy areas, areas along railroads, flower gardens, and deciduous woodlands. While it may occur in sunny sites, this is primarily a spring-blooming plant of deciduous woodlands. The small dormant bulbs have the capacity to survive major earth-moving operations, and may reestablish themselves wherever the soil is dumped. Siberian Squill is more robust and more likely to naturalize than many other spring-blooming flowers from bulbs, but it is not particularly aggressive. At a favorable site, a few plants may form a sizeable colony after several decades.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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introduced; B.C., N.B., Ont., Que.; Ill., Ind., Ky., Mass., Mich., Mo., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Pa., Utah, Wis.; Russia, north to 55º, Caucasia, and possibly n Iran; naturalized in c Europe.
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European part of Russia (southern regions), Caucasus and Turkey. In glades and among shrubs, in forests of low mountain zone.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants up to 15-20 cm. Bulbs dark brown, widely conical, 2-3 cm dam. Leaves 3-4, up to 10-15 cm x 1-2 cm, linear, sulcate above. Flower stem with 3-6 bright blue up to 2.5 cm diam. Flowers widely funnel-shaped. V - early spring (March, April) to mid-summer. Fl - April. Fr - June. P - by seed and daughter bulbs. In cultivation since 1796, widely naturalized in gardens and parks of Europe. Undemanding as to habitat. Z 3.
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Description

Plants 10–20(–30) cm; bulbs tunicate, ovoid, 1.5–2 cm; tunics dark purplish brown. Leaves 2–4; blade broadly linear, 10–15 × 0.5–2 cm. Scapes 1–4. Inflorescences racemose, 1–2(–5)-flowered, bracteate; bract 1–2 mm. Flowers: perianth deep blue, 12–16 × 4–6 mm; pedicel drooping, 8–12 mm, equaling or shorter than perianth. Capsules 4–6 mm. Seeds pale brown, with long white appendage, globose, 2–3 mm. 2n = 12.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Othocallis siberica (Haworth) Speta
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Siberian Squill is an uncommon plant that occurs in only a few counties in Illinois, primarily in the east-central region of the state. It was introduced into the United States from Eurasia as a horticultural plant because of its attractive flowers. Habitats include disturbed grassy areas, areas along railroads, flower gardens, and deciduous woodlands. While it may occur in sunny sites, this is primarily a spring-blooming plant of deciduous woodlands. The small dormant bulbs have the capacity to survive major earth-moving operations, and may reestablish themselves wherever the soil is dumped. Siberian Squill is more robust and more likely to naturalize than many other spring-blooming flowers from bulbs, but it is not particularly aggressive. At a favorable site, a few plants may form a sizeable colony after several decades.
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Escaping from gardens; 0--1500m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The fragrant flowers are very attractive to various kinds of bees. The foliage and seed capsules are avoided by mammalian herbivores because they contain pyrrolizidine and other toxic alkaloids. Except for the attractiveness of the flowers to bees, the ecological value of this wildflower to fauna is low.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering early to mid spring.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is partial sun during the spring, mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil with an abundance of organic material. Siberian Squill adapts well to deciduous woodlands and naturalizes easily. It also adapts to sunny grassy areas. The foliage dies down by early summer. At wet locations, crown rot can become a problem. Different horticultural varieties of this plant exists, including one with white flowers.
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Wikipedia

Siberian squill

Siberian squill (Scilla siberica; also called wood squill) is a bulbous perennial, grown for its nodding blue flowers in early spring. It naturalizes rapidly from seed.

Contents

Distribution

Siberian squill is native to southwestern Russia, the Caucasus, and Turkey. Despite its name, it is not native to Siberia.

Description

Flowers have six petals and six stamens, and are arranged singly or in racemes of 2 or 3. Petals may be reflexed to the horizontal when sunlight is bright, but are more often cup-shaped. Most specimens have blue flowers, but the Scilla siberica var. alba is white. The stamens of Scilla are separate, unlike those of the related genera Puschkinia and Chionodoxa, which are fused into a tube. Pollen is dark blue.

After flowering, the flower stems become limp and pods form. At maturity, the pods become purple and split open, releasing small, dark brown seeds. When seed is mature, the leaves wither and the plant goes dormant till the next spring.

Seedlings are hollow-leaved.

Cultivation

At 15 cm (6 in), Siberian squill is suitable to be planted in grass, and will spread by seed to form large colonies that go dormant by the time grass needs to be mowed.

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Notes

Comments

S. monanthos C. Koch is related to S. siberica, but smaller in size.
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Comments

Naturalization of Scilla siberica is expected elsewhere.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Name corrected from 'sibirica' (Kartesz 1991 draft) to 'siberica' in published 1994 Kartesz checklist. LEM 14Apr97. Most U.S. floras (e.g., Fernald 1950, Mohlenbrock 1986) use the 'sibirica' spelling although Hortus Third uses 'siberica.'

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