This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek name, probably referring to their tall and striking aspect in solitary and desert places). Liliaceae. These hardy desert plants, when in flower with their great flower-stalks taller than a man and crowned with a spike of flowers from 1 to 4 feet long, are amongst the most striking objects in the choicer gardens of the North and East.
Root clusters of fleshy fibers: leaves all from the root, in dense rosettes, long and linear: flowers white, yellow or rosy; perianth bell-shaped or more widely spreading, withering and persisting or finally dropping away; segments 6, distinct or very slightly united at the base; stamens 6; ovary 3-celled; seeds 1-4 in each cell, 3-angled. - About 20 species, from the mountains of W. and Cent. Asia.
Probably E. robustus and E. himalaicus are the hardiest of all the tall desert-inhabiting plants of the lily family - a family including the poker plant, the aloes, the yuccas, and many others that are not so tall and striking in appearance or else too tender to grow outdoors in the North. Large specimens of E. robustus will annually produce a flower-stalk 8 feet or more high, with racemes 4 feet long, remaining in bloom for a month. After flowering the leaves disappear entirely, but early in spring they reappear, and should then be covered with a box or barrel, to protect the forming flower-stalk from late frosts. A mound of ashes over the crown in winter is advisable, or a box with watertight top filled with dry leaves. Both species like a rich soil, moist but well drained, and plenty of water in the flowering period, but none afterwards. Propagation is by division, or slowly by seeds. Large plants are expensive, but they can sometimes be secured large enough to flower within a year or so of purchase. It tries one's patience to wait for seedlings to reach flowering size.
The flowers look like small stars. (W. C. Egan.)
A. Flowers rosy.
B. Leaves linear-ligulate.
Regel. Root-fibers thick and fleshy: leaves glaucous, glabrous, linear-ligulate, 2 ft. long, 1 1/2-2 in. wide, roughish on the margin, with minute recurved teeth: raceme 4-4 1/2 in. wide; stamens about as long as the perianth. Turkestan. B.M. 6726. Gng. 6:52, 324. Gn. 46, p. 335. Mn. 8, p. 123. J.H. III. 29:267. Gt. 61, p. 366. G.C. III. 28:228; 30:426. variety albus, Hort. Stronger and pure white. - May be grouped in the hardy perennial border with bold effect.
bb. Leaves ovate-lanceolate.
Elwesii, Mich. (E. Elwesianus, Hort.). Leaves light green, ovate-lanceolate, obtuse, flat, not at all rough at the margin, shorter than in E. robustus, nearly triangular, even more glaucous, and beginning to decay at the time of flowering: perianth-segments with a band of deeper color down the middle. Habitat(?). R.H. 1897:280. Gn. 54, p. 99. G.C. III. 24:137; 33:381. G.M. 44:321. - Intro, by Leichtlin as D. robustus variety Elwesii.
aa. Flowers white.
Baker. Fig. 1409. Root-fibers thick and fleshy: leaves 9-12, ligulate, firm, persistent, 1-1 1/2ft. long, 6-15 lines wide above the middle: raceme 3-3 1/2 in. wide; stamens about as long as the perianth. Himalayas. B.M. 7076. Gn. 49, p. 131. G.C. II. 16:49. G.M. 44:321; 52:631 (as E. Elwesii.)
Fig. 1409. Eremurus hirnalaicus.
Olgae, Regel. Leaves narrow, glabrous, but with rough margins, about 8-12 in. long and 7-8 lines broad: flowers in a dense raceme, spreading; the white petals with a single brownish nerve down the center. Turkestan. variety albus, Hort., a white-fid. form is known.
AAA. Flowers some shade of yellow.
B. Color light yellow.
Bieb. Root-fibers thick and fleshy: leaves 6-15, lorate, slightly glaucous, 12-18 in. long, 6-12 lines wide above the middle, noticeably narrowed at the base: raceme 1-1 1/2 ft. long, 2 in. wide; stamens orange, finally twice as long as the perianth. Asia Minor, Persia. B.M. 4870.
bb. Color pure yellow or orange.
Bungei, Baker. Leaves contemporary with the flowers, linear, 1 ft. long, less than 3 lines wide: raceme 4-5 in. long, 2 in. wide; stamens finally twice as long as the perianth. Persia. G. 19:31. G.L. 20:155. Gn. 60, p. 53; 66, p. 150. variety magnificus, Hort. A larger form than the type and with brighter yellow flowers variety praecox, Hort. An early flowering more slender form than the type, the flowers smaller and loosely scattered on the spike. variety citrinus, Hort. "More robust than the type and with larger citron-yellow flowers" bbb. Color orange. aurantiacus, Baker. Closely allied to E. Bungei, but five plants have less acutely keeled leaves: root-fibers tapering upward, and orange flowers and stamens. Bokhara, Turkestan. B.M. 113.
During recent years many beautiful hybrid plants have been introduced into cultivated, often under some specific name which gives no indication of the parentage. Of these the following are known and the parents are indicated when possible. - E. isabellinus, Vilm. A hybrid between E. Bungei and E. Olgae. Flowers large, apricot-rose. - E. Michelianus, Hort., is supposed to be a hybrid between E. Warei and E. Bungei. G.C. III. 40:83, desc - E. Tubergenii, Hort. A hybrid, crossed in Holland between E. hirnalaicus and E. Bungei. - E. vedrariensis, Hort.=E. robustus X E. spectabilis? R.H. 1907, p. 229. - E. Warei, Hort., is supposed to be a natural Eastern Asiatic hybrid between E. Bungei and E. Olgae. It is described as growing in ordinary seasons about 8 ft. high. The flowers are less bright than in E. Bungei, and in rootstock it resembles the later-flowering E. Olgae. Gn. W. 22: suppl. May 27.
N. Taylor, †