Scientific Name: Bomarea spp.
Plant Type: Vine or ground cover
Environment: Protect from frost, snails and slugs; water year-round.
Bloom: Clusters (umbels) of 30-45 flowers (umbels) often in orange, red, and yellow with inner tepals spotted or marked.
Uses: Plant in a sunny location in the Bay Area and a more shady location in hotter areas. The ends of the climbers will need light to flower.
Other: Bomarea are pollinated mainly by hummingbirds; the flowers contain a sweet nectar. They can reach flowering size in two to three years.
Bomarea are tuberous. A tuber is a thick, underground storage stem typically bearing outer buds.
Bomarea are mostly climbers or vines. There are up to 120 species that are endemic to limited areas from Mexico to Argentina. They are in the same family as Alstroemeria, both having resupinate leaves, twisting 180 degrees at the base. In fact, this is a distinguishing feature for the family. Lowland species are fast-growing climbers with stems that can reach 15-20 feet. At higher elevations, they can lose their climbing habit and start to resemble tall-growing Alstroemeria species. The flowers are gathered in a dense umbel, which in some species can have up to 60 flowers. The flowers are made up of three outer tepals (petals and sepals of the same color and/or shape) and three inner, in often dramatic contrasting colors.
Two particularly remarkable species now blooming in the garden include Bomarea caldasii, from Ecuador and Bomarea petraea, from Peru. B. caldasii is considered extremely rare in its native habitat. It has large clusters of vibrant orange flowers with the inner tepals yellow spotted with brown. Bomarea petraea, or Peruvian lily vine, has orange-red flowers. The inner tepals are spotted with maroon and are quite striking. Many Bomarea species thrive in the Bay Area's mediterranean climate. They need year round watering and protection from frost, snails and slugs.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:Photos by Joanne Taylor; text and profile by David Kruse-Pickler; additional photos provided by James Gaither.