What is Leucocoryne?

Vasanth S.

Leucocoryne is a plant genus that is part of the Alliaceae family. It contains about 12 species of perennial flowering plants that are native to Chile. The plants feature aromatic flowers with multicolored petals that sit atop erect, narrow stems. They are usually grown as potted plants, and the cut flowers are long lasting and suitable for vases. This plant genus does not tolerate frost or excessive moisture.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The name of this genus is derived from the Greek words leukos and koryne, which translate to "white" and "club," respectively. Several plants in this genus are referred to as glory of the sun or Andean glory of the sun lily. Leucocoryne purpurea is commonly known as purple glory of the sun. It features light-purple flowers, while L. coquimbensis has white flowers. Most of the species in this genus have fragrant flowers.

All the species in this genus are native to Chile. Leucocoryne purpurea grows mainly along the coast at altitudes ranging from 0 to 1,600 feet (about 0-500 m). Leucocoryne ixioides populates the coastal mountains and interior valleys at altitudes between 1,600 and 6,550 feet (500-2000 m).

L. purpurea, or purple glory of the sun, typically grows 20 inches (50 cm) tall and 4 inches (10 cm) wide. The narrow, linear leaves are silvery-gray to green in color. A thin, straight stem rises above the ground and holds an umbel of flowers. An umbel is a flower arrangement in which several flower stalks of similar size sprout upright from the stem at a single point. The structure is similar to that of an open umbrella.

Purple glory of the sun is generally grown in a sheltered spot that has fertile, well-draining soil. It is adaptable to most soil types including loamy, sandy, and clay. This plant can also tolerate acidic and alkaline soil conditions. If grown indoors, it is recommended to use a loam-based potting compost that contains sharp sand.

Generally, purple glory of the sun requires full sunlight and an average amount of water to grow well. Excess water can cause unhealthy conditions, and frost can damage the plant during the winter. Plants grown indoors should be placed near windows so that they have access to direct sunlight. Indoor plants should also have adequate ventilation.

Leucocoryne plants are bulbs, which means they have an underground fleshy structure that stores food for use during dormant periods. They are usually dormant during the hot summer and grow during the winter. Once the plant has established itself in a pot, it should remain there for at least two years before it is transplanted. This ensures the bulb is strong enough to adapt to a new environment.

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