Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

February 2008 Archives

University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley

High on my list of places to visit when I next travel to California is the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. This undated photograph by John Davidson is clearly from the garden's early days. It is an early image, perhaps, of the New World Desert garden, or that particular garden's predecessor (almost all cacti are distributed in the “new world”, hence the guess). The details of the hills in the background might make it possible to take a modern-day photograph from the same point.

A photograph of the present-day New World Desert Garden is available on the mission and history page for the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

Feb 28, 2008: Aristolochia elegans

Aristolochia elegans

Connor Fitzpatrick is the author of today's write-up. Connor writes:

Today's Botany Photo of the Day is a close-up courtesy of mycologie@Flickr (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool. Many thanks!

Some common names for this member of the Aristolochiaceae family include calico flower and dutchman's pipe. The native distribution of Aristolochia elegans covers western and central South America. However, it is also listed as an invasive species throughout the Pacific (link contains more photographs; also note that Aristolochia littoralis is a synonym of the accepted Aristolochia elegans).

This species poses a high risk of becoming a serious pest in Australia (more information on risk assessments by Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk), with particular impact on insect populations. Butterflies of the family Papilionidae, including Atrophaneura polydorus, lay their eggs on Aristolochiaceae. The caterpillars sequester the toxin and use it as defence from predation (via Wikipedia). No ill effects are caused to the larvae after ingesting native Australian species of the family Aristolochiaceae. However, an as-yet-unknown chemical poisons and kills caterpillars of Atrophaneura polydorus after they consume the leaves of Aristolochia elegans (via Crossley and Evans).

Feb 27, 2008: Tortula muralis

Tortula muralis

Connor Fitzpatrick is responsible for today's write-up:

This bryophyte (liverworts, hornworts and mosses), belongs to the class Bryopsida. Also referred to as the joint-toothed mosses, the Bryopsida account for 95% of all moss species. The common name refers to the fact that the peristome teeth found on the sporangium of these mosses are made from fragments of whole cells. The peristome teeth of this moss are hidden underneath a calyptra and an operculum. The UBC Biology 321 course website does an excellent job explaining moss morphology.

This particular moss, Tortula muralis, has a wide distribution and can be found on all but one continent. This incredible range is due in part to an ability to tolerate desiccation (water loss). Eric in SF@Flickr noted that he found this moss growing on a brick wall. As Daniel mentioned in a previous BPotD posting, ectohydric mosses such as Tortula muralis rely on external water conduction. Mosses are in constant equilibrium with their habitat. Water is travelling in and out of cells depending on the available moisture in the environment, a condition known as poikilohydry. Several physical features help this moss retain water in low-moisture environments (such as brick walls), including leaf extensions (awns) which reflect light & increase the laminar boundary layer and very dense, short growth. Another bryid moss that can be found on similar substrates and shares these features with Tortula muralis is Grimmia pulvinata. The ability to resist desiccation at the cellular level is an active area of research. Oliver et al. (PDF), compares the mechanisms of desiccation tolerance in bryophytes to those of vascular plants with the hopes of coming to a better understanding of the evolution of this ability throughout land plants. One such mechanism (PDF) found in the moss Tortula ruralis (not a typo), is the conservation of polyribosomes during desiccation. Polyribosomes are needed for the translation of mRNA into proteins. Upon rehydration, these conserved polyribosomes allow the moss to resume protein synthesis.

An understanding of the processes employed by mosses and vascular plants to “cope with severe water deficits has economic and agricultural implications that directly relate to crop productivity in an ever challenging and changing environment” (via Oliver et al.). Thank you to Eric in SF for a very interesting photograph (original via BPotD Flickr group pool).

Feb 26, 2008: Cynomorium coccineum

Cynomorium coccineum

Today's photograph and write-up are courtesy of UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist Jackie Chambers:

I first saw this fantastically phallic crimson plant while working in southern Spain. Often found in salty areas, Cynomorium coccineum has a native distribution across the Mediterranean (including parts of northern Africa) and Saudi Arabia. This plant does not have any leaves; in fact it doesn’t produce any chlorophyll at all. Instead, it derives energy by parasitizing the roots of other salt-tolerant (halophytic) plants.

Cynomorium coccineum spends most of its life underground as a rhizome. The thick, fleshy stems emerge from the soil after the winter rain, and can reach 15-30 cm. The stems can range in colour from dark red to almost black. Tiny scarlet flowers are so densely packed along the stems that it is almost impossible to see individual flowers. Instead, they give the whole stem a fuzzy texture. The Parasitic Plant Connection has a wonderful selection of photographs: Cynomoriaceae.

These stems are supposed to be delicious when eaten fresh (the flavor is often compared to apples). However, they are more prized for their medicinal qualities. Given the plant’s colour and shape, it is clear why it has been traditionally used to treat blood diseases and sexual problems. Bedouins call it ‘Tarthuth’, and refer to it as ‘the treasure box of medicines’ due to its many uses. For details on how Cynomorium has been used historically, visit Cynomorium: Parasitic Plant Widely Used in Traditional Medicine.

Daniel adds: The species seems to only be commonly known as cynomorium (in English). It is one of two species in the genus Cynomorium, the sole genus within the Cynomoriaceae.

Feb 25, 2008: Acetabularia sp.

Acetabularia sp.

Connor Fitzpatrick is the author of today's write-up. Connor writes:

Commonly known as mermaid's wineglasses, this algae comes courtesy of shyzaboy@Flickr during a beach exploration of the Grand Bahama Island. Given its location, it's very likely that this species is either Acetabularia crenulata or Acetabularia schenckii. The former has a large distribution: from coastal Florida, throughout the Gulf of Mexico and into Venezuela, the Caribbean Islands, India, the Philippines, and Australia. Acetabularia schenckii can be found off Florida, throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the northern coast of South America, although it has never been documented in the Bahamas.

The Acetabularia genus belongs to the Polyphysaceae family and contains twelve species. Like all other algae of the order Dasycladales, the Acetabularia are unicellular with a single nucleus (uninucleate). The thallus of the organism consists of a cap, a stalk, and a rhizoid, in which the nucleus can be found. Sexual reproduction is initiated with the formation of the cap at the stalk apex, at which point the nucleus undergoes a meiotic division followed by a series of mitotic divisions. The newly formed haploid nuclei travel up the stalk into the cap along with most of the cell contents. After this takes place the junction between the cap and stalk closes and gametangial walls begin to form enclosing the nuclei. The gametes are produced and released. Upon meeting, two gametes of opposite mating types will fuse and a new individual will form from the germinating zygote.

Another species of the genus, Acetabularia acetabulum, has proven instrumental in early studies of cell differentiation. In 1932, J.Hammerling conducted various experiments in which he grafted the enucleated (without a nucleus), cytoplasmic stalk portions of Acetabularia acetabulum onto a nucleate stalk of another species. The cap that grew from this individual was intially that of an Acetabularia acetabulum species, but if this cap was cut off the proceeding one would be that of the other species. Further experimentation led Hammerling to conclude that the regulation of cell differentiation took place in the cytosplasm, through the process called translation. Up until this point, it was believed that this regulation took place in the nucleus, through the process of transcription. Read more research on the ability of an enucleated fragment of Acetabularia mediterranea to initiate a cap (PDF).

The findings from early studies with Acetabularia helped clarify the central dogma of molecular biology, something which I had implicitly assumed to be indisputable. I guess being in school at a time when nothing but this dogma seems so absolute, it's hard for me to imagine a time when this wasn't the case. Thanks again to shyzaboy for a great shot! (original via BPotD Flickr Pool).

Feb 22, 2008: Brugmansia suaveolens

Brugmansia suaveolens

Starting with today's entry, we welcome Connor Fitzpatrick to BPotD. Connor is a third-year student at UBC, and he's going to be helping me with write-ups and photographs for BPotD over the next ten weeks. He's already been assigned to approach UBC faculty and grad students for a BPotD series on plant research at UBC, for the upcoming Celebrate Research week. Welcome, Connor! — Daniel.

Connor writes:

Thanks for this image submitted by stephenbuchan of Scotland (original via BPotD Flickr Group Pool). It’s greatly appreciated.

A member of the Solanaceae family, this plant’s common names include angel’s trumpet and angel’s tears. It’s not hard to imagine why people commonly name this plant the angel's trumpet. Only a flower like this could look as sweet as it sounds. However, Brugmansia suaveolens isn’t the only species to receive this common name. In fact, looking at GRIN’s records of species for Brugmansia, nearly all have been likened to heavenly brass.

GRIN reports this plant as having a native range throughout Brazil and western South America (Bolivia and Peru). This plant has been used for centuries by people as an antiasthmatic and antispasmodic medication as well as a hallucinogen (see PDF link below). The chemicals in Brugmansia suaveolens responsible for this activity are called tropane alkaloids. They are produced to undertake the role of defence against herbivores. Here (PDF) is an interesting experiment by Zayed & Wink from 2004 regarding the production of tropane alkaloids in Brugmansia suaveolens.

Feb 21, 2008: Orania ravaka

Orania ravaka

Thank you to a new contributor today, Morabeza79@Flickr for today's photograph. I highly recommend visiting the original posting (and this related one) for Morabeza79's accompanying write-up. He also has a set of 150 (as of today) palm photographs.

As noted by Morabeza79, this is IUCN Red List vulnerable species (VU B1+2c). It is endemic to Madagascar, where it can be found in only 2 to 5 lowland rainforest localities (IUCN states 3 localities). The number of total individuals in the wild is approximately five hundred.

Few photographs of the species in the wild are available online, but here are two of the same individual plant: Orania ravaka via Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia, and Orania ravaka from the commercial rarepalmseeds.com site.

Feb 20, 2008: Brassica oleracea [Capitata Group] 'January King'

Today's write-up is courtesy of Eric La Fountaine, as well as the first photograph (taken in mid-January 2008). The second photograph is one I took in early February 2005. Thanks, Eric!

The Brassicaceae, or mustard family is the source of more vegetables than any other plant family (source: Simpson, B.B., Ogorzaly, M.C. Economic Botany - Plants in Our World, 3rd ed., 1995). Brassica oleracea, native to the Mediterranean region, has been grown as a food crop for over 2500 years. People saved the seeds of their favourite plants for cultivation and reselection every year; over a relatively short period of time, this human selection process resulted in some of our most popular vegetables. This single species has been developed into kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and today's BPotD feature, cabbage.

Cabbage was developed around the first century. It has become an important staple in many regions, as it is easy to grow, tolerant of cool climates, very nutritious, and amenable to long-term storage. The vegetable lends itself to pickling and was an important source of vitamin C during times when fresh produce was not readily available. Not only is cabbage high in vitamins and low in calories, recent research shows it to be rich in antioxidants, which help prevent cancers.

Feb 19, 2008: Salix uva-ursi

Thank you to“LabTea”, of the UBC Botanical Garden Forums, for today's photographs (original thread | BPotD Submissions Forum). I'm reading a book on photographic composition and put it down while on the subject of “pattern”, so I suspect that had some influence on choosing these images today. Much appreciated!

Bearberry willow is native to northeastern North America (including Greenland), though absent from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Newsholme's book, Willows - The Genus Salix, states that it typically grows on calcareous rocks at high altitudes (though some other references suggest it will also do well on granitic rock. Newsholme also describes it as: “An ornamental, very distinctive and hardy dwarf species requiring a well-drained rocky situation”. In this case, dwarf means it will grow to a height of about 15cm, so it's apparent that both photographs have been taken with the camera at near-ground level.

The majority of species in the genus Salix are native to the northern hemisphere, but there are representatives in South America and tropical Africa (indeed, some of the rarest species can only be found in one river basin in Africa).

Feb 18, 2008: Posidonia oceanica

Posidonia oceanica

And once more, we get to thank the globe-trekking Jackie Chambers for today's photograph and write-up! Jackie writes:

I came across this fantastic ‘fiber ball’ on the beach while doing field work in southeastern Spain. The balls, or aegagropiles, are actually composed of the fibrous remains of Posidonia oceanica. Over time, dead fibrous tissue of individuals of this species are tossed about by waves. The constant rolling action of the sea eventually forms this material into balls which wash up on the beach.

Sea grass, or Neptune grass, is a flowering plant adapted to live underwater. It is native to the Mediterranean Sea where it forms large undersea meadows (see meadow photograph on this page). It has strap-like leaves which can be 1cm wide, and can reach up to 1m long. The species produces green flowers, and the fruit is sometimes called the “Olive of the Sea” (photograph via Forum Natura Mediterraneo). Like many true aquatics, it is the movement of the water that ensures the pollination and seed dispersal of this interesting plant.

For photos of the plant structure, clearly showing the live green leaves, the fibrous remains of old leaf sheaths, the rhizomatous root, an aegagropile, as well as flowers and fruits, see this detailed article (in French).

Posidonia oceanica is ecologically important as it provides habitat for a wealth of underwater creatures and plays a key role in the health of underwater ecosystems. Neptune grass is often called the “Lungs of the Mediterranean Sea”. Habitat destruction and pollution are threatening these populations.

Feb 15, 2008: Petasites hybridus

Petasites hybridus

Thanks once again to marcella2@Flickr from The Netherlands for a contribution to BPotD (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). Spring seems to have sprung (in north temperate areas)!

Where I grew up, the related Petasites sagittatus was the first wildflower of spring, so it is no surprise that Petasites hybridus is a similar early-bloomer. Commonly known as bog rhubarb, devil’s hat, pestilence wort or, simply, common butterbur, Petasites hybridus is native to Europe and northern Asia (though it is now established in some areas of North America). It is primarily found in areas with wet soil, like many other Petasites species.

The Plants for a Future database lists a number of medicinal uses for Petasites hybridus, but it does not cite a recent reference: Lipton et. al. 2003. Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for migraine. Neurology. 63:2240-2244 (and a subsequent review study). As an occasional migraine sufferer, I'd take the trade-off of a pill-a-day for the associated predominant side-effect: burping.

Skye Flora (from the Isle of Skye) has a few more photographs of Petasites hybridus, accompanied by a brief description. You might also enjoy a close-up of the flowers under ultraviolet light.

Feb 14, 2008: Silene aegyptiaca

Silene aegyptiaca

Another thanks to Jackie Chambers for a photograph and write-up! We did record Jackie's presentation on Black Irises and Red Tulips - Wildflowers of Israel and Jordan, but I haven't had an opportunity to check it yet. If it is of sufficient technical quality, I'll post it sometime soon.

Egyptian campion is native to the Middle East. It is a common annual found in fields and disturbed areas throughout Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Egypt. The plant can reach 15-20cm in height, and creates magnificent carpets of pink flowers in olive groves and orchards during the spring.

The flowers are pink with 5 petals. Each petal has two tooth-like projections at the top, and a notch in the base. The flowers are hermaphroditic, meaning they have both staminate (pollen-producing) and carpellate (ovule-producing) structures. The leaves are simple; there are two per node in an opposite arrangement. The fruit is a capsule containing many seeds. For more photos, visit the Flora of Israel online.

This is just one of 40 Silene species found in Israel. The Flora of Israel also has photos and descriptions of the other species. Worldwide, there are thought to be over seven hundred species, with a distribution primarily in the northern hemisphere (source: Flora of North America account of Silene).

Feb 13, 2008: Banksia praemorsa

Banksia praemorsa

Another thank you to Eric in SF@Flickr or PlantWorld for contributing an image to BPotD (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool. Much appreciated!

It's been a bit of a trend on BPotD lately to feature plants with flower colours different than what is usually encountered. The cut-leaf banksia in today's photograph illustrates the infrequently-found yellow-flowered variation of this species. The Flora of Australia Online describes the flower colour of Banksia praemorsa as follows: “Flowers red-maroon where exposed, otherwise pale greenish yellow, pink inside; limb greenish; rarely all yellow”. The typical red-maroon coloured flower can be seen on the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plant's page on Banksia praemorsa.

The ASGAP page also explains the epithet praemorsa, which means “bitten off”. This is in reference to the leaves. Photographs of the leaves are available via FloraBase: Banksia praemorsa. This latter link also shows a detailed distribution map for this species, which is native to a strip of wooded or shrubby land along the southern coast of Western Australia.

Feb 12, 2008: Dicranopteris linearis

Dicranopteris linearis

Thank you again to Krystyna Szulecka for sharing another of her excellent photographs (posted in this thread in the BPotD submissions forum). If you like, see more of Krystyna's images by searching for “Krystyna” on the FLPA web site.

Given its distribution, it's doubtless that Dicranopteris linearis has dozens of common names. Four names frequently used are Uluhe fern, climbing fern, false staghorn and Old World forked fern. According to GRIN, it can be found in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the Old World. That left me puzzled for a bit, as Plants of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park lists it as indigenous and the USDA PLANTS database displays it as native to Hawaii The mystery was partially resolved when I looked at GRIN's entry for Dicranopteris linearis f. marginata, noted to be found in Hawaii. So, it appears to be a small oversight that Hawaii isn't included in the broader distribution list.

The Plants of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a photograph clearly illustrating the reason for one of the common names, climbing fern. More photographs, particularly with respect to propagation, are available in the PDF suggested by Krystyna: The Propagation and Production of Uluhe Fern (Dicranopteris linearis) for Potential Use as a Restoration Species (a presentation given to the International Plant Propagators' Society).

The New South Wales Flora Online provides a small scientific description of the species.

Feb 11, 2008: Anemone × hybrida 'September Charm'

Anemone × hybrida 'September Charm'

Thank you again to Eric La Fountaine for today's entry and write-up!

Anemone × hybrida is commonly known as Japanese anemone, but is actually a cross of Anemone hupehensis (native to China) and Anemone vitifolia (native to mainland southeast Asia). A dependable fall-bloomer for the garden, this particular cultivar produces many blooms on tall stems to over a metre high. The large single flowers are a lovely, almost-silvery, pink. Japanese anemones are vigorous growers and form nice clumps. They can get out of bounds, spreading from the roots, or, in some cases, seeding. This photo shows the seed head. Fine white fibers attached to the seeds help with dispersal. I don't know if this plant has been a weed problem in the garden, but I did note that it had spread across the path. The seed heads are not often noticed as gardeners tend to trim the plants back in the fall.

Feb 8, 2008: Sclerochiton odoratissimus

Sclerochiton odoratissimus

Thank you to Michael Charters of Calflora.net for contributing today's photograph via the Botany Photo of the Day submissions forum on the garden's site (in this thread). As Michael notes, “Here's a picture of a beautiful species that has few if any images displayed on the internet”.

It's not just images that are hard to come by online – information about the species is hard to find, too! Michael's description, “It is an erect shrub 3-4' tall, sparsely hairy all over and sweetly scented, hence the species name”, is about as much information as I can locate, though the Botanical Society of Africa's Kwa Zulu-Natal Coastal Branch adds that it prefers semi-shade and has a common name of “white lips”.

Details about this genus of African woody plants are a bit easier to locate, thanks to the Flora of Zimbabwe's entry on Sclerochiton and (especially) the Tree of Life's page on Sclerochiton. The latter contains additional images of species in the genus, including the member of the genus most often (though still rarely) found in cultivation, Sclerochiton harveyanus (or “blue lips”, despite the colour of the flower in the image on that page). Swaziland's Flora Database explains that Sclerochiton harveyanus may have a flower colour of mauve, purple or violet (and in shade, I suppose, these may appear blue, hence blue lips).

Feb 7, 2008: Hulsea algida

Hulsea algida

A new contributor today! Thank you to mdv_graupe@Flickr for sharing today's photograph with us (original via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool). It's very appreciated.

Common names for Hulsea algida include alpine hulsea, Pacific hulsea, alpine gold hulsea. The names tend to suggest a high-elevation grower, and indeed it is: this photograph was taken at 4000m (or 13 300 ft.). It is generally found in the western USA: California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (Utah is intriguingly absent).

The Jepson Manual provides its usual excellent description of the species: Hulsea algida. Frequent BPotD contributor Michael Charters has a page about it as well, with links to the meaning of the names (e.g., algida means “golden cold” – see comments below): alpine gold hulsea. More photographs are available via CalPhotos.

Feb 6, 2008: Centaurea cyanoides

Thanks one more time to Jackie for sharing a photograph and write-up from her travels to Israel. One last reminder that Jackie is speaking next Monday on Black Irises and Red Tulips - Wildflowers of Israel and Jordan. If I can get organized, I may set Jackie up with the laptop that records presentations and accompanying audio for the web, but no guarantee!

Syrian cornflower is a low growing, annual groundcover native to Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The entire plant may reach 10-25cm in height, and the foliage is smooth and silver in colour.

Although Centaurea cyanoides looks similar to the European cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), the Syrian cornflower is much smaller and is only found in the Middle East. The stunning blue inflorcence is produced in spring and early summer, and is only 2-3 cm wide. See the Flora of Israel website for more photographs of Centaurea cyanoides.

Like other members of the Asteraceae (the aster family), the flower head is actually made up of a cluster of tiny flowers called florets, and they are collectively referred to as an inflorescence. These florets are tubular in shape; the inner florets (called disk florets) are fertile, the larger outer florets (or ray florets) are sterile and showy to attract pollinators. The inflorescence sits in a cup-like structure called an involucre, made up of dark, bristly bracts (modified leaves). Ray florets, disk florets, and bristly toothed bracts are features shared by many Centaurea species. For a closer look at these interesting flower parts, Microscopy UK provides some lovely and extremely detailed photos of another member of this genus, Centaurea jacea.

Feb 5, 2008: Lysichiton americanus

Lysichiton americanus

This scan is from a photograph taken in 1912 by John Davidson, part of the collection of 5000+ scans of photographs and documents that will soon be available online via the project I've been diligently working on.

Interestingly, this lantern slide is labelled as Lysichiton camtschatcensis. Without the benefit of a colour slide and a little bit of botanical history, one might (at first) make the erroneous conclusion that this is a cultivated planting in Vancouver of the east Asian Lysichiton camtschatcense. That doesn't make too much sense, though – it's doubtful that anyone would grow a mass planting of that species in the Vancouver of 1912. With a little digging (very little, as it turns out), I discovered the answer via Wikipedia: for some time, the two species were considered one.

In terms of outward appearance, Lysichiton americanus has a bright yellow or greenish-yellow spathe while the spathe of Lysichiton camtschatcense is white, which, without additional evidence, is often not enough of a difference to consider dividing one species into two. More differences between the east Asian and North American species were eventually noted: for example, Lysichiton camtschatcense has much smaller anthers and lengthy protruding stamens. This accumulated evidence became enough to recognize two distinct species.

However, Lysichiton americanus wasn't published as a name for a distinct species until 1931, nineteen years after today's photograph (and resolving the mystery of the slide label). As to whether this particular patch of swamp lantern (or skunk cabbage) exists today, perhaps some of the local readers who know Stanley Park will chime in with the answer.

For a botanical description of this species, read the Flora of North America entry on Lysichiton americanus.

Feb 4, 2008: Vaccinium cylindraceum

Vaccinium cylindraceum

Thanks again to Eric La Fountaine for stepping up with a photograph and write-up!

Species of Vaccinium have become increasingly popular foods in recent years, due to their high antioxidant levels. Blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries and others in the genus are enjoyed for their delicious fruit. Most members of the genus are native to cool areas of the Northern Hemisphere, but a few like Vaccinium cylindraceum are found in warmer climates. This species is native to the Azores (a group of islands off the west coast of Africa that is part of Portugal). Its common name is Azores blueberry. The fruit is similar to blueberries found in North America, but the fruit and flowers are longer and shaped more cylindrical than spherical. The flavour is superb.

This photo was taken on a sunny day in December. It seemed late for such a colourful autumn display. Most other deciduous plants at the garden had dropped their leaves, but this specimen was glowing. It was previously featured on BPotD in bloom.

Feb 1, 2008: Lycoris squamigera

Lycoris squamigera

Thank you to shotaku@Flickr from Missouri, USA for sharing a photograph from last summer (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). Much appreciated!

Lycoris squamigera has several common names: resurrection lily, surprise lily and magic lily, to name a few. The names reflect the short span of time between the flower stalk first emerging above the soil to full-flower, perhaps taking only four or five days. The leaves are absent when the plant flowers, adding to the notion of surprise. This pattern of asynchronous leafing and flowering is also seen with Colchicum, illustrated in two unrelated photographs: flowers and leaves.

For the gardeners among you, the Kemper Center for Home Gardening has a brief factsheet on Lycoris squamigera. Photographs of various species, cultivars, and hybrids within the genus, including Lycoris squamigera, are available from the Pacific Bulb Society Wiki: Lycoris. The PBSWiki also notes the taxon is possibly a natural hybrid (occurring in nature), but conflicting information doesn't provide a clear picture as to what the parent species are; in any case, this hybrid is thought to have origins in China or Japan.

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