Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana L.   


Rock Garden Bed 155 on the 'middle road' between the Brunet meadow and the weather station below the Residence is home to our ‘Not-so-Peruvian Lilies.’

Scilla peruviana was found in the 17th century in Southern Spain and named for the ship, the Peru, which brought this variety to England.

Most reference books mention the fact that the specific epithet, peruviana, is misleading and a glance at the common names reveals just how much this confusion has compounded.

There are about 90 species in the genus Scilla for which the natural distribution is Africa, Asia and Europe. The much-loved and now endangered English Bluebell or Harebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, is no-longer included in the above count though it may still be found in texts under the synonyms Endymion non-scriptus, Scilla non-scripta and Scilla nutans.

The natural distribution of Scilla peruviana, with its variable flower colour and form, is from southwestern Europe to western Africa. Seed for the specimens in our garden was ‘wild collected’ from crevices in limestone on Upper Rock, Gibraltar and supplied to us in 1994 by the Gibraltar Botanic Garden.

Planted in 1996, with the neck of the bulb at soil level, our Scilla peruviana bulbs prefer a free-draining, humus-rich soil, adequate moisture when actively growing and full sun to partial shade. They don’t like temperatures below -5ºC, however container growing is said to be a rewarding alternative in cold climates.