Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. sphaeocarpum
Bath Asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum subsp. Sphaerocarpum) was till the first half of the 20th century in the area of Bílé Karpaty (White Carpathians) and Hostýnské vrchy considered a common weed in grain fields. Its good times, however, ended with the introduction of deep ploughing. Consequently, this exotic-looking bulbous plant found itself – due to overall changes in landscape management – on the list of critically endangered species.
Bath Asparagus is a perennial plant colonizing grassy orchards, drier meadows, balks and bushy slopes. Strap-like leaves and over 1 m tall stem carrying clustered inflorescences grows from a deeply placed bulb.
The occurrence range of the Sphaerocarpum subspecies spreads from our Moravian localities through Balkan peninsula to Asia Minor. In the north of Balkan peninsula, the range meets with the occurrence range of the subspecies Pyrenaicum, which occurs further west all the way to south England. The two subspecies differ mostly by colour of perianth and shape of capsules. The Sphaerocarpum subspecies has greenish-white perianth and spherical capsules, while the Pyrenaicum subspecies has yellow perianth and elongated capsules.
Bath Asparagus currently occurs only very rarely in east Moravia in Hostýnské vrchy and in middle parts of Bílé Karpaty. Its localities have been decreasing in the last decades and the number of surviving individuals is also getting smaller. To the main threatening factors of the species belong unsuitable landscape management and grazing of the plants by cloven-hoofed game animals.
Bath Asparagus belongs to critically endangered species of our flora (according to Regulation No. 395/1992) and is classified in the Black and Red List of vascular plants of the Czech Republic (Grulich 2012) also as critically endangered.