Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the September 21, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

To keep my motion sickness under control I had to watch the road constantly but, still, once we were onto moist slopes, splashes of red and yellow began catching my eye and despite myself I'd turn my head trying to see what it was. It was one of Mexico's prettiest wildflowers blossoming among roadside weeds. You can see its spectacular, five-inch-across blossom here.

This was TIGRIDIA PAVONIA, sometimes called MEXICAN SHELLFLOWER, a bulb-producing member of the Iris Family. Species in the genus Tigridia are generically referred to as tiger-flowers. Tigridia pavonia is found from about here to Honduras, plus it's invasive in other tropical countries.

Anything this pretty and arising from a bulb is bound to have been tinkered with horticulturally, and that's the case here. Lilac-, yellow- and pure-white-blossomed varieties have been developed, as you can see at http://www.floriana.ws/fotocat1/Tigridia_pavonia_in_var.jpg.

A distinguishing feature of Tigridia species, which you can see in the first picture above, is that the stamens' filaments (the sticklike parts atop which pollen-producing anthers are affixed) join into a slender column at the blossom's center that conspicuously extends above the corolla. Atop the column three large anthers tilt away from one another.