Muscari botryoides (L.) Mill.

Common Grape Hyacinth


CC = *
CW = 5
MOC = 17

© SRTurner

Family - Liliaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with bulbs covered with a membranous to papery, smooth, outer coat, lacking the odor of onion or garlic, glabrous.

Stems - Erect scape to 30 cm, glabrous, often glaucous, single from base, unbranched, green below, purplish in inflorescence.

Muscari_botryoides_bulbs.jpg Bulbs.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Basal, linear, entire, 10-25 cm long, 3-8 mm wide, flat, grooved or broadly "U" shaped in cross section, glabrous.

Muscari_botryoides_leaves.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Muscari_botryoides_leaves2.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Terminal dense indeterminate raceme to 6 cm. Pedicels to 5 mm long, glabrous, slightly elongating in fruit.

Muscari_botryoides_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© DETenaglia

Flowers - Sepals and petals fused nearly to the tips, urn-shaped to globose, blue, glabrous, with 6 small lobes at apex. Sterile, terminal flowers few, ascending, with stalks 0.5-5.0 mm long, with perianth 2-4 mm long. Fertile flowers with stalks 2-5 mm long at flowering, elongating in fruit, the perianth 4-5 mm long. Stamens 6, fused to base of perianth, included. Style 1, included. Stigma 3-lobed. Ovary superior, 3-locular.

Muscari_botryoides_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© DETenaglia

Muscari_botryoides_flowers2.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Muscari_botryoides_flower3.jpg Sectioned flower.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Capsules, 3-angled, glabrous, glaucous, 5 mm long and broad. Seeds 2 per locule, black.

Muscari_botryoides_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© DETenaglia

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Typically cultivated, often persistent, occasionally escaped, in fields, pastures, old homesites, lawns, cemeteries, roadsides, railroads, and disturbed mesic areas.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Lookalikes - M. racemosum.

Other info. - This is a very popular plant in cultivation, both in Missouri and in many other parts of the U.S., because it is easy to grow, interesting in appearance, and very early to flower in spring. The small blue inflated flowers are hard to miss and the plant is easily identified. It can be distinguished from M. racemosum by its flat leaves; the leaves of the latter species are tubular.

The plant actually contains both sterile and fertile flowers in the inflorescence. The sterile flowers are smaller and at the apex of the inflorescence, with the fertile flowers below. Once established, this species can become quite prolific in some of the open, cutover stream valleys of the Ozarks. The common name "grape hyacinth" is somewhat confused, as it is not unique to this plant, and moreover this plant is not closely related to hyacinths. The genus name Muscari derives from the Greek muschos for "musk," referring to the odor of some species.

Photographs taken off Strathbury Rd., Platte County, MO., 7-2-00, and in Brown Summit, NC., 4-5-03 (DETenaglia); also at Weldon Spring Conservation Area, St. Charles County, MO, 4-5-2014 and 3-30-2020 (SRTurner).