This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
This is a very extensive genus of beautiful bulbous herbs. Bulbs tunicated. Leaves all radical and linear. Flowers racemose, usually blue, rarely purple or white. Perianth-segments nearly or quite free, nerve of one rib. Stamens 6, perigynous; filaments not dilated. The classical name. S. verna and S. autumnalis are small species indigenous in the South-west of England, though very rare. The former bears bracteate racemes of bright blue fragrant flowers in April or May, and the latter bractless racemes of reddish-purple flowers in August or September.
Dr. Masters has recently investigated the early "Spring Squills, and he ranges them under three species, as follows : 1. S. bifolia. - Bulb ovoid. Leaves 2 or 3, spreading, recurved, linear-lanceolate, channelled, terminating in a short blunt cylindrical point. Scape equalling or exceeding the leaves; bracts minute; pedicels spreading, lower ones longer than the upper ones. Flowers 5 or 6, blue; segments of the perianth oblong, obtuse, spreading. This includes several varieties differing in the colour of the flowers, as rosea, alba, carnea, etc.; and S. praecox is an earlier-flowering form with larger flowers of a deeper blue than in the type. Russia to Greece.
2. S. Sibirica. - Bulb roundish. Leaves about four, flat, strap-shaped, slightly thickened at the point. Scape flattened, striated, scarcely so long as the leaves. Flowers 2 to 6, rarely solitary, on short pedicels, pale clear blue, more intense along the medial nerves of the segments. This includes the names cernua, uniflora, azurea, amoenula, etc. Asia Minor, etc.
3. S. amcena. - Bulbs ovoid or roundish. Leaves numerous, spreading, strap-shaped, acute, and nearly a foot long, midrib prominent below. Scape erect, shorter than the leaves, compressed, striated, purplish upwards. Flowers 3 to 6, dark indigo blue, in a loose two-sided cluster. Segments of the perianth lanceolate, acute, midrib prominent. Filaments slightly dilated and whitish at the base, blue above. Ovary pale yellow. Central Europe and the Tyrol.
In the following the bracts are nearly as long as the pedicels.
4. S. campanulata (Endymion campanulata). - A South
European species resembling our common Blue-bell. A large plant with leaves about a foot high and an inch wide. Scapes equalling the leaves. Flowers bell-shaped, variable in colour from deep blue and rose to white. South Europe, flowering in May.
5. S. nutans (fig. 253), syn. Hyacinthus noii-scriptus. Blue-bell, Wild Hyacinth. This is too well known to need description. It varies in colour like the last, though the prevailing colour is blue.
Fig. 253. Scilla nutans, (1/4 nat. size.)
6. S. Peruviana. - Named in error, being a native of South-western Europe. A much larger plant than any of the foregoing, 12 to 18 inches high, with broadly -linear ciliate leaves. Scape stout; flowers very numerous, deep blue. Stamens white; bracts solitary. May and June.
7. S. Italica. - A similar but smaller plant than the last, with pale blue flowers having two bracts at the base of each pedicel. Leaves bright green, lanceolate. There is a white variety of this and the last.