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Erythronium (grandiflorum)

Tara Luna
USDI NPS - Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana 59936
(406) 888-7835

Family Scientific Name: Liliaceae
Family Common Name: Lily family
Scientific Name: Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh
Common Name: Glacier Lily
Species Code: ERYGRA├┐
Ecotype: Subalpine meadows, Logan Pass, 2032m elev.
General Distribution: E. grandiflorum occurs from sagebrush slopes and montane forests to subalpine to alpine meadows, from southern B.C. to Washington and northeastern Oregon, east to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado; from 1000m to 3500m elevation.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 172 ml conetainers
Time To Grow: 3 Years
Target Specifications: Stock Type: Container seedling<br> Height: 4 true leaves; 10 cm.<br> Caliper: n/a<br> Root System: Developed corm with root system.
Propagule Collection: Seeds are hand collected in late August and early September when capsules turn papery and begin to split, and when seeds are brown in color. Capsules are collected in paper bags and kept in a well ventilated drying shed prior to cleaning.
Propagule Processing: Seeds are easily hand cleaned from opened and dry seed capsules.
Seed longevity is unknown.
Seed dormancy is classified as deep, complex, morpho-physiological dormancy.
Seeds/Kg: 189,383/kg
% Purity: 100%
% Germination: 36 to 68%
Pre-Planting Treatments: 5 month cold, moist stratification. 2 year old seeds were treated. No germination was obtained on fresh seeds.
Morpho-physiological dormancy is broken when environmental conditions are correct for embryo growth and development and germination is prevented until physiological changes have occurred; in response to cold-moist conditions. The germination results obtained indicate that fresh seeds may require a period of after-ripening.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Outdoor nursery growing facility.
Sowing Method: Direct Seeding. Surface sow seeds for the light requirement.
Growing medium used is 6:1:1 milled spaghnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite with Osmocote controlled release fertilizer (13N:13P2O5:13K2O; 8 to 9 month release rate at 21C) and Micromax fertilizer (12%S, 0.1%B, 0.5%Cu, 12%Fe, 2.5%Mn, 0.05%Mo, 1%Zn) at the rate of 1 gram of Osmocote and 0.20 gram of Micromax per 172 ml conetainer.
Conetainers are filled and sown in late fall and irrigated thoroughly prior to winter stratification. Seedlings germinate in spring under fluctuating outdoor temperatures and are grown under full sun exposure. Seedlings are irrigated with Rainbird automatic irrigation system in early morning until containers are thoroughly leached.
Average growing season of nursery is from late April after snowmelt until October 15th.
Establishment Phase: Seeds germinated uniformly over a 15 day period in early May, when temperatures were between 16 and 21C during the day, and 3C to 11C at night. Seedlings developed one cotyledon before going dormant 4 to 5 weeks after emergence. A tiny corm was formed the first year. When seedlings go dormant they must only be watered occasionally.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: True leaves appeared the following year in early May. Again, plants went dormant by mid-June. The corms doubled in size to 0.5 cm in diameter by the end of the second year. It is estimated that it may take from 3 to 5 years to obtain mature corms.
Time to harvest mature corms could be shortened by figuring out the minimum chilling requirement of dormant corms.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 10 weeks
Hardening Phase: Not done. Plants were dormant by mid summer.
Length of Hardening Phase: 12 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time To Harvest: 3 years minimum.
Harvest Date: Not harvested yet.
Storage Conditions: Overwinter in outdoor nursery under insulating foam and snow.
Length of Storage: 5 months
Other Comments: Members of the Liliaceae are endo-mycorhizzal dependent. Inoculation of growing medium would likely increase growth and development.
It is important to protect developing seedlings from rodents and excessive irrigation water; especially after seedlings go dormant in mid summer. E. grandiflorum has a short growth season; generally having only 10 weeks between emergence and leaf fall. Thus, propagation by seeds is a slow process.
There are three botanical varieties: var. grandiflorum, var. candidum, and var. nudipetalum.
Vegetative Propagation: The bulb is a true corm; which is a solid stem structure with distinct nodes and internodes. Axillary buds are produced at each of the nodes of the corm. Two types of roots are present; a fibrous root system and contractile roots, developing from the base of the corm.
Cormels have been observed to form on the mother corm; this may be an alternative method to produce sizable plants in a shorter period of time. Cormels should be removed from mother corms in the fall and stored in slightly damp peat at 10C until spring, when they are planted at 2 cm depth. Scoring corms, which involves making an incision around the base of the corm, may be applied to this species for the induction of cormel formation.
References: Flora of the Pacific Northwest, Hitcock and Cronquist, Univ. of Washington Press, 7th printing, 1990.
Seed Germination Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition, Deno, Norman, publ.1993.
Glacier Park Native Plant Nursery Propagation Records, unpublished.
Seeding Rate Statistics for Native and Introduced Species, National Park Service, Hassell, Wendel, April 1996.├┐


Luna, Tara; Evans, Jeff; Wick, Dale. 2008. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh plants 172 ml conetainers; USDI NPS - Glacier National Park West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2020/09/30). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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