On My Knees to Crown Brodiaea

I first (literally) ran across Crown Brodiaea in the late 1990s while working road construction west of Rochester, Thurston County. At the end of a long day of chip-sealing, we parked our equipment on a patch of dry grass. As I climbed down from my roller, I spotted the most beautiful purple flowers growing in the grass, with glossy flared petals. Luckily, I had my trusty field guide (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Pojar and Mackinnon, Lone Pine Publishing) in my bag! I succeeded in identifying the charming blossoms (many of which I had just flattened with my 7-ton, 9-tired pneumatic roller). While we waited for a lift back to our cars, the other members of the crew laughed at me, book in hand, on my knees before the flowers.

 Crown Brodiaea (Brodiaea coronaria), a.k.a. Harvest Brodiaea, thrives in the gravelly soils of Thurston County’s prairies, making it a perfect candidate for a rock garden. No rock garden? Give it full sun and excellent drainage. For example, you could tuck it just under the edge of your home’s south-facing eave—it will be moist in winter, and completely dry in summer.

In the late winter, one to three narrow, grass-like leaves emerge from the underground corm. After the leaves dry up, the 4-10”-high flower stalks put on their show in June or July.

 Right now, the Crown Brodiaea in the nursery have leafed out. I am pretty sure most will bloom, since the bulbs/corms are relatively large. I am planning to plant a few beside the native bunchgrass, Roemer’s Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis ssp. roemeri), and close to some other native prairie wildflowers: Great Camas (Cammassia leichtlinii Common Camas (Cammassia quamash), Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), and Big-Leaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus).

Come visit! Things are now showing thoroughly encouraging signs of growth. And I promise I won’t make fun of you if get down on your knees before the floral denizens of Tadpole Haven!

Brodiaea coronarialeavesinPots

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