Bomareas ("vining Alstromerias") in Bloom in the Bay Area

mark4321_gwNovember 3, 2012

Bomareas can bloom over much of the year out here. The first three pictures were taken today, and the rest over the last three years.

Bomareas are closely related to Alstroemerias (Peruvian Lilies) except that most are vining. They are from Central and South America, and most are cool growers, from higher elevations. The flowers occur in umbels at the ends of long, twining shoots.

I picked up the first plant three weeks ago at a sale at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (Strybing). It's a variety of Bomarea caldasii that the propagator at Strybing refers to as B. caldasii var. 'Flare':

(note that the shoot in the upper right has yet to terminate in flowers, and is still growing)

I believe the above plant is a seedling from a plant that was photographed and listed on the "other" garden forum as Bomarea kalbreyeri.

We had a relative visiting, so we took her to Strybing Arboretum (SF Botanical Garden) on Friday. Many things are in bloom, including a number of Bomareas. Many of these plants do not have species IDs, and I don't pretend to know the differences separating Bomarea species.

Here's on growing up a tree (actually a tall stump I think). There is also an Abutilon in the photo.

This yellow Bomarea is often very dramatic at the Arboretum, also growing up a tree stump:

It's easy to miss how huge the umbel is when seen at a distance. It turns out I took a photo of the same plant in bloom earlier in the year:

I suspect, but I'm not positive, that this is the same variety being sold by the online seed vendor Seedhunt as Bomarea cf. Superba (

Across the Bay, at the UC-Botanical Garden in Berkeley are a number of other Bomareas. Here's just one I photographed a couple years ago, which I assume is a variety of Bomarea caldasii:

Finally, here's a plant I picked up in 2009 at Strybing, which I was told is part of the Bomarea edulis/hirtella complex, perhaps closer to Bomarea edulis:

The whole plant growing in a 1 gallon pot:

A closeup of some flowers:

From what I understand Bomarea edulis/hirtella might be of particular interest to many since at least some strains of this plant are from lower elevations. Thus, it might be possible to grow the plant in areas that get summer heat and humidity.

I've bought Bomareas at Strybing Arboretum ($15 for 1 gallon plants in bud/bloom) and also at Annie's Annuals ($10 for a small plant--which quickly formed buds). UC-Botanical Garden in Berkeley is another source. Seedhunt also carries several.

Seeds are slow to germinate. Bomarea edulis took almost 6 months, when I tried them. However, all seeds I planted germinated within several days of each other. Fresh seeds are crucial, ideally never dried. I've since read that it helps to remove the red covering (the sarcotesta).

My Bomarea edulis died for reasons that were not clear, but not before producing seeds. At least one of the seedlings (hopefully more) is still out there, and a friend has recently obtained seeds from one of those seedlings. I was commenting to a different friend that I think it's the first time I've seen fresh Bomarea seeds offered on one of the exchange forums:

Here is a link that might be useful: A friend's offer of Bomarea seeds

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I forget to mention Telos bulbs as a source of Bomareas. They sell a number of species. I've never bought anything from them, but they have a great reputation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bomareas at Telos Bulbs

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 9:36AM
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You are right about these being from cool elevations. I have collected seed from a couple of species in the Venezuelan Andes at between 2000 and 3000 mts elevation but they never come up at lower elevations. There is however a lowland species with pink petals spotted with green and white and browns. My relatives had it in their garden at almost sea level. It is from the coastal mountains. Unfortunately I do not have its species name on hand or a photo. I know I have seen it in one of my books of local flora but do not recall which....

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 5:47PM
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