Scilla

COMMON NAME:  scilla
GENUS:  Scilla
SPECIES:  S. sibirica
FAMILY:  Liliaceae
BLOOMS:  early spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION: Scilla has short {4 to 6 inches} spikes of bright blue or white flowers. The foliage is attractive and the growing habit neat, making it an excellent plant to use as a border or edging plant. It also lends itself well to an informal setting and looks very good naturalized under trees or shrubs.
CULTIVATION:  The small bulbs should be planted 4 inches deep in the early fall. Give them an open, sunny spot, and they will multiply rapidly.

Ten species of Scilla are native to Europe, and several of these have been cultivated for many centuries. Some records indicate that at least five species of Scilla were being cultivated as early as 1597.
The genus name means “I injure” and refers to the poisonous properties of the plant. Red scilla was even used as rat poison.
Scilla is often called squill. The bulbs of both the red and white squills were made into a concoction called a “syrup of squills.” This supposedly had medicinal properties, and a drug found in the bulbs was used as a component in heart tonics. The physiological effects of eating this bulb were thought to be similar to those of inhaling tobacco, for both acts on the nervous system. Roman statesmen suggested Scilla was a diuretic. It was also used to treat asthma and dropsy.
The Welsh name for this plant is cuckoo’s boot. S. bifolia was described by John Gerard, author of a sixteenth-century herbal, as “small blew flowers consisting of sixe little leaves spread abrode like a star. The seed is contained in small round bullets.”

Scilla siberica Spring Beauty

During Elizabethian times, the starch used for stiffening collars was made from the bulbs of this plant.

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