Flowers in a tight umbel of 6 to 15 flowers at the end of a 2 ft long slender stem. Bracts generally dark purple or striped in ssp. capitatum.  UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 2-23-10. © Joan Avise.

Blue Dicks (Wild Hyacinth, School Bells)

Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum

A widespread 1-2 ft. high perennial arising from a corm.  Reproduces by seed or cormlets; cormlets are attached to the parent corm by stolons. A fire follower, colonizing by cormlets rather than seed after fire. Corms may lie dormant for over a decade before fire or other favorable conditions allow them to grow.  Found in native grassland, coastal sage scrub, openings in chaparral, and grassy benches bordering woodlands (Roberts). Flowering: March - June.

Native Americans cultivated and used the corms as a food source. Indigenous people had several different types of management activities to ensure future corm production at gathering sites:
        1. breaking off cormlets from the harvested parent corms and replanting them
        2. sparing whole plants
        3. harvesting the corms after plants have gone to seed and dumping the seeds in the hole
        4. burning areas
5. irrigation

Periodic digging and thinning of the corms or separating the cormlets, and replanting them may have enhanced plant numbers and densities. Digging corms acts as a form of tillage, which will increase the size of the gathering tract, aerate the soil, lower weed competition, and prepare the seedbed to increase seed germination rates. Dichelostemma capitatum populations require periodic disturbance to maintain and increase their populations; therefore, indigenous harvesting regimes may help maintain populations. Populations that become overcrowded and show reduced vigor can be divided and separated (Wikipedia). Corms are also eaten by bears, deer, rabbits and pocket gophers.

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Floral tube bell-shaped, violet, blue- or pinkish-purple or white, with 6 ascending lobes; 6 fertile stamens, white, deeply notched, angled inward, with outer filaments wider at the base. Membranous, petal-like stamen appendages around the anthers. UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 1-1-11. © Joan Avise.

UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 3-2-08. © Joan Avise.

UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 3-4-10. © Joan Avise.

O'Neill Regional Park, Trabuco Canyon, CA. 4-11-10. © Joan Avise.

UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 2-23-10. © Joan Avise.

UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 2-23-10. © Joan Avise.

Leaves, 2 -3, slender, basal, grasslike, up to 15 in. long.  Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Laguna Niguel, CA. 4-05-08. © Joan Avise.