Small Grape Hyacinth
- Name also: Italian Grape Hyacinth, Compact Grape-hyacinth
- Family: Asparagus Family – Asparagaceae
(formerly Hyacinth Family – Hyacinthaceae)
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Bulb with greyish brown shell.
- Height: 8–20 cm (3.2–8 in.). Stem bristly or flat, leafless scape.
- Flower: Perianth spherically urceolate (pitcher-shaped), sapphire–dark blue (sometimes white), 2.5–5 mm (0.1–0.2 in.) long, fused, with constricted mouth, shallowly 6-lobed, lobes triangular, recurved, white. Stamens 6, filaments broad, flat. Gynoecium composed of 3 fused carpels, ovary trilocular, style solitary. Inflorescence a dense raceme, in bloom becoming longer and more spaced out, flowers nodding, uppermost smaller than others, sterile.
- Leaves: In basal rosette, 2–3 leaves, rigid, erect. Blade linear, keel-tipped, flat, parallel-veined, with entire margin.
- Fruit: Round, 3-edged, 4–6 mm (0.16–0.25 in.) long capsule.
- Habitat: Yards, parks, gardens, wasteland, dumps, roadsides, broadleaf woods. Ornamental, sometimes wild.
- Flowering time: May–June.
Genus Muscari is native to the eastern Mediterranean, which is an area with an exceptionally diverse growth. It is the meeting point of three continents, four climate systems and botanic geographical areas, and as such has exceptionally abundant flora. Many genus Muscari members are grown as ornamentals, and a few of the hardiest even survive in Finland. They manage well in the more barren environment of the flower bed without any special care. The bulbs might spread nearby with garden waste or even when potted plants are discarded along with the earth they were growing in.
Small grape hyacinth flowers in early spring at the same time as squills (also known as star hyacinths) and croci. The fun-looking inflorescence is comprised of small, spherical, pitcher-like flowers. Grape hyacinths have sterile flowers on the end of their racemes whose only function is to attract the attention of potential pollinators. Having noticed the plant, bees find fertile flowers containing nectar at the bottom of the raceme. Small grape hyacinth doesn’t propagate by seed in Finland, only by way of its bulbs.
Armenian Grape Hyacinth & Common Grape Hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum & Muscari neglectum
Among other grape hyacinth species that can be found in Finland sometimes outside gardens are at least Armenian grape hyacinth and (common) grape hyacinth. Armenian grape hyacinth has elongated flowers and spreading corolla lobes. Common grape hyacinth (starch grape hyacinth, musk hyacinth) has darker fertile flowers and its upper, sterile flowers are smaller and paler.