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Callitriche stagnalis

Callitriche stagnalis
Callitriche stagnalis

One kind of folk taxonomy divides plants into three groups: plants we adore, plants we abhor and plants we ignore. Pond water-starwort is surely in the third group, along with many other little-acknowledged freshwater aquatic plants. Still, admirers exist.

One example: when Richard Lansdown, the world expert on Callitriche species, visited UBC Botanical Garden earlier this year, he called this particular variant of Callitriche stagnalis the most beautiful he's ever seen. Unfortunately, the information about whether this variant is from a local population or “wild” collected elsewhere in British Columbia (it is not native to BC, hence the “wild”) was lost when the curator of the Native Garden vanished more than a decade ago.

A second example of admiration: the name Callitriche means “beautiful hair”, which, according to the Jepson Manual entry, is a reference to its slender stems.

For more information on pond water-starwort, visit the Skye Flora page on Callitriche stagnalis. If you would like to learn more broadly about how some species of plants have evolved to survive underwater, I recommend visiting the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden's page on freshwater aquatic plants; it discusses many aspects of the specialized adaptations required for life in a medium different than air.

On a different tack, the garden is venturing into e-commerce territory with the opening of the UBC Botanical Garden Cafepress Store. The store includes a section for Botany Photo of the Day images; in addition to the existing 2007 calendar, I'll be adding cards and prints over the next week. I'll post more information about the store in the next couple of days, too.

Botany resource link: The island of Rum was made (botanically) infamous when it was discovered to be the site of botanical fraud. If you haven't read the book “A Rum Affair” (and I'll admit that I haven't), you can learn more about this story from the BBC or Watsonia, the journal of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

7 Comments

Your comment "the curator of the Native Garden vanished more than a decade ago" arouses my interest. It sounds like there ia another story here. Care to enlighten me?

I wasn't around at the time, so I can't speak firsthand.

My understanding is that he simply didn't come to work one day and no one has heard from him since. There is speculation as to what occurred, but I don't think it is my place to say. I suspect the truth of the matter will never be known.

Daniel;

This is another candidate for Photo of the Year, in my opinion; the watery shadows of the overlying trees (?) add depth and mystery to the photo. When you add cards/prints to the Store, please be sure to include this one and the Juncus photo!

Wow. Vanished like that.
Not gone missing on some plant expedition...

Drama at the gardens!
Where's Miss Marple when you need her?

That really is a lovely plant form.
I wonder if it would do well in a planted aquarium...?

Will do, bev - and thanks.

Jenn, it looks like this species is grown as a freshwater aquarium plant.

Aha - I've been corrected by a former garden staff member. Apparently, the curator had retired from the garden first, but then vanished without a trace.

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