The weather is still wintry, but that does not discourage the hyacinths and grape hyacinths from blooming, right on time. The genjus Hyacinthus is in the family Asparagaceae, and is native from southern Turkey to Israel in the eastern Mediteranian region. Most of the plants in the trade are selections of the species orientalis. The bulbs contain oxalic acid and are poisonous, but the flowers are highly fragrant. They have been grown in horticulture for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Grape hyacinths are in the same family as hyacinths but are in the genus Muscari, which is native to southern Europe, the Mideast and northern Africa. The bulbs are also poisonous. The plants now in horticulture have been bred for so long that their lineage is totally confused. They will naturalize well in a lawn, along with crocus and other minor bulbs.