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.
A South European and Asiatic genus of bulbous herbs. Leaves appearing with the flowers; the latter in racemes, deep blue or white, or greenish blue, the terminal ones very often abortive. Perianth small, tubular, globose, often constricted at the mouth, with small reflexed lobes, segments more or less united. Stamens in two series, inserted in the tube of the perianth; filaments slender or dilated, scarcely exceeding the anthers. Capsule sessile, with 1 or 2 seeds in each cell. The name is from the Latin moschus, musk, in allusion to the smell of the flowers of some species. The name Grape Hyacinth is applied indiscriminately to any of the species.
1. M. comosum var. monstrositm. - A very remarkable and abnormal plant in which the inflorescence is transformed into a dense tuft of slender ramifications of a dark violet-blue. Southern Europe. The normal variety is an unattractive plant and rarely grown.
2. M. racemosum. - This has become naturalised in some parts of England. It is a dwarf plant with linear stiff fleshy leaves from 6 to 12 inches high. Scape rather shorter, with a dense terminal raceme of small dark-b'ue flowers ultimately changing to a reddish purple, and tipped with white in some varieties. It flowers in Spring.
3. M. botryoides. - This is one of the handsomest of the genus, growing about 8 or 10 inches high. Leaves linear, channelled, glaucous. Flowers in a very dense short spike, deep blue tipped with white, sky-blue and white, or wholly white. A native of Southern Europe flowering in Spring.
M. Heldreichii is a very beautiful species with much larger flowers and linear flat leaves; M. commutation is near M. race-mosum, but the leaves are flaccid; M. moschatum has very sweet-scented though small greenish-yellow flowers tinged with blue, or wholly blue; M. liteum is a pretty species with large fragrant flowers at first purplish, but changing to a pale yellow. They are all South European species.