Monday 13 October 2014

Nothoscordum borbonicum

Nothoscordum borbonicum
Only one weed is considered obnoxious at RHS Garden Wisley, and that is honeybells or onion weed (Nothoscordum borbonicum).

It is spreading in the fan borders and the fruit garden, so I have had the opportunity to weed it out a few times in the last couple of weeks, so I've become familiar with it.

Easily detached bulbils surround the main bulb

It is quite a successful weed as the main bulb is surrounded by tiny bulbils that break away as soon as the soil is disturbed: some are white and better visible but others are shrouded in a brown papery cover that merges easily with the background; it is very difficult to remove them all, unless a soil clump comes away with the bulb and you don't break it.


Despite belonging to the Alliaceae family, Nothoscordum does not carry the tell-tale scent, but the white, bell-like flowers with greenish bases and brownish marks across the petals, are fragrant, hence the common name honeybells.

The leaves are straplike, flat and slightly concave in section, with fine longitudinal veins.



Seedlings do their best to disguise themselves as grass, from which they are almost indistinguishable above ground, but the bulbils with rather long white rootlets are easily identified.

It's just a matter of getting up close and personal.

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