Grape Hyacinth

Muscari armeniacum Leichtlin ex Baker, Muscari comosum (L.) Mill.

Synonyms - Muscari conicum, Muscari neglectum = Muscari armeniacum.
Hyacinthus comosus, Leopoldia comosa = Muscari comosum.

Family: Asparagaceae (was Liliaceae)

Names:

Muscari is from the Latin muscus meaning moss and the Latin moschatum means musk scented which refers to the smell of Muscari moschatum.
Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)
Tufted Grape Hyacinth (Muscari comosum)

Other Names

Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum)

Summary:

A hairless, perennial or annual bulbous herb with annual tops of 4-6 lax strap like leaves and cylinders of blue flowers on an erect fleshy stalk.

Description:

Cotyledons:

One.

First leaves:

Long and narrow, cylindrical, green with a pink-red tinge near the base. Tip blunt.

Leaves:

4-8 leaves 100-300 mm by 3-8 mm wide long for M. armeniacum. 3-6 leaves, to 50-500 mm long x 5-20 mm wide for M. comosum, all arise from the bulb.
Blade - Long, narrow, channelled, lax. Hairless
Ligule - None
Auricles - None

Stems:

True stem is underground.
Flower stem - Leafless, cylindrical, erect, about half as long as the leaves.

Flower head:

Cylindrical, spike like raceme at the end of the single flower stem that is 300-800 mm tall with many, sterile, blue flowers on top. Bracts very short.
Dense raceme, 15-40 mm long for Muscari armeniacum.
Lax raceme, 90-400 mm long for Muscari comosum.

Flowers:

Sterile blue flowers on top on long stalks. Fertile pale brown, tubular flowers lower down on shorter, 0.5-2 mm long, stalks.
Ovary - 3 celled with 2 ovules per cell.
Style - about 3 mm long, undivided.
Perianth - Tubular or urn shaped with 6 bent back teeth. Sky blue with white teeth and scented for M armeniacum. Top sterile flowers purple blue and lower fertile flowers pale brown with cream teeth for M. comosum.
Stamens - 6. Enclosed in the perianth
Filaments - Short.
Anthers -

Fruit:

3 celled, egg shaped, 3 angled capsule, 5-15 mm long x 6.5-8 mm wide, with 2 obliquely superimposed seeds per cell.

Seeds:

Black, oval to tear shaped, wrinkled surface.

Roots:

Bulb - Egg shaped, 20-40 mm diameter, fleshy layers, membranous red brown tunics, many bulbils, plus feeder roots.

Key Characters:

Leaves all basal.
Aerial stem and inflorescence simple.
Flowers always 1 in the axil of each bract, pedicellate, fertile ones bisexual.
Some or all flowers bluish.
Perianth fused, segments less than 20 mm long.
Filaments not bearded
Bulb.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial or annual. Grows from seeds, bulbils and bulbs. Flowers in spring

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed, bulb and bulbils.

Flowering times:

Spring.
Muscari armeniacum August to September in SA
Muscari comosum September to November in SA

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Bulbs and bulbils.

Hybrids:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed, bulbils and intentional plantings and the dumping of garden refuse.

Origin and History:

Muscari armeniacum Asia minor, South east Europe.
Muscari comosum Europe, North Africa Asia.

Distribution:

Muscari armeniacum NSW, SA, VIC.
Muscari comosum NSW, SA, WA.

Muscari armeniacum
Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Muscari comosum
Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate.

Soil:

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Ornamental

Detrimental:

Weed of disturbed areas, rotation crops, perennial crops and grass land.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Symptoms:

Treatment:

Legislation:

None

Management and Control:

Bury garden refuse 1 m deep or burn it. Remove flowers before seed set. Cultivate in summer to desiccate bulbs.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Try chlorsulfuron, metsulfuron, imazethapyr or glyphosate.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Plants of similar appearance:

Chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) has white flowers.
Agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox) has many leaves and balls of blue flowers.
Three-cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum) has triangular stems and white flowers.
Bulbil Watsonia (Watsonia bulbillifera) has salmon pink flowers and a flattened leaf base.
African Cornflag (Chasmanthe floribunda) has orange flowers and flattened leaf bases.

References:

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P352. Diagram.

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Ciba Geigy (1982) Grass Weeds 3. CIBA GEIGY Ltd, Basle, Switzerland. P. 125. Diagrams.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #678.

Moerkerk, M.R. and Barnett A.G. (1998) More Crop Weeds. (R.G and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne). P24. Photos. Diagrams.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.