Grape Hyacinth

Botanical Name : Muscari racemosum
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Genus: Muscari
Species: M. racemosum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonym: Starch Hyacinth.Muscari atlanticum – Boiss.&Reut.
Muscari racemosum – Lam.&DC.

Common Name :Grape Hyacinth

Habitat :Grape Hyacinth is native to   Mediterranean region, north to Britain, Belgium, Germany and S. Russia.It grows on Dry grassland in sandy soils

Description:
Grape Hyacinth  is a perennial bulbous and a robust plant, with large bulbs which have thick fleshy roots. Each bulb produces several greyish-green leaves. Flowers are borne in a spike or raceme. Individual flowers are 7–9 mm long, grey-white when fully open, sometimes with a bluish tone; they have a distinct scent of musk. This is the species from which the genus gets its name (Muscari is from the Greek muschos, meaning musk).
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It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a rich open well-drained soil and a sunny position. Easily grown in any well-drained soil. Grows very well in short grass, increasing freely and it can become invasive. A very variable plant. The flowers secrete lots of nectar and are a valuable bee plant in the spring. The flowers are said to have a smell like wet starch whilst another report says that they are deliciously plum-scented.

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Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a greenhouse. The seed can also be sown in early spring in a greenhouse. A good proportion of the seed usually germinates within 2 – 3 months. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be left undisturbed in the pot for their first year of growth. Give them an occasional liquid feed in the growing season to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants become dormant in late summer, pot up the small bulbs placing 2 – 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for another one or two years in the greenhouse before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer. Division of offsets in July/August after the leaves die down. It can be done every other year if a quick increase is required[1]. Larger bulbs can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Root.

Bulb are sometimes  cooked  and eaten.

Medicinal Uses:
The American species Muscari comosum (Mill.) (Feather Hyacinth), or Purse Tassel, has been used, as well as other species of Muscari, for its diuretic and stimulant properties. Comisic acid has been extracted from the bulb, and apparently acts like Saponin.

The innumerable varieties of Garden Hyacinth are derived from an Eastern plant, Hyacinthus orientalis.

Known Hazards:
The bulb is poisonous. It contains a substance called comisic acid, which is said to act like saponin. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Muscari+neglectum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyagra42.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscari_racemosum

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