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Results tagged “amaryllidaceae”

Oct 8, 2014: Clivia caulescens and Clivia miniata

Today's entry was written by Tamara, who scribes:

For this BPotD entry, I chose to compare two species of Clivia in order to highlight how one species in a group has evolved to use a different set of pollinators. Thank you to the late James Gaither (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr) for his photo of Clivia caulescens taken at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and to Priscilla Burcher (Priscilla Burcher@Flickr) for her image of Clivia miniata taken at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in South Africa.

Clivias are endemic to South Africa and Swaziland. These yellow, orange, or red-flowering plants have been popular ornamental species in Western gardens since they were first collected by the British explorers William Burchell and John Bowie in the early 19th century. Clivias have long, dark-green strap-shaped leaves and are adapted to the low-light conditions of the forest floor. They have been extensively bred for ornamental qualities, and even have a global fan base (check out the Global Clivia Enthusiast Forum if you also share this passion). Clivia miniata is the most-cultivated of the genus, commonly called Natal lily or bush lily. It reaches a height of about 45 cm, and in its native habitat grows in well-drained, humus-rich soil of forest floors or, rarely, in the fork of a tree. Clivia caulescens is rarely cultivated. This species has an unusual stem for a Clivia, which reaches to 90cm in height with aerial roots along its length.

Natal lily is the only Clivia that is pollinated by butterflies, while Clivia caulescens, like all other species of Clivia, is pollinated by sunbirds. The botanists Ian Kiepiel and Steven D. Johnson, in the 2013 article Shift from Bird to Butterfly Pollination in Clivia assert that the ancestor of Natal lily was a sunbird-pollinated species like the other members of the genus. In the evolution of Clivia miniata, a transition to butterfly pollination occurred. One of the most pronounced shifts found by Kiepel and Johnson was that the flowers went from the pendulous, tubular flowers exemplified by today's image of Clivia caulescens to the upright, trumpet-shaped flowers of Clivia miniata. This change is best explained by examining the pollinating methods of sunbirds compared to butterflies. Sunbirds desire a perch while consuming their nectar, and the drooping flowers of Clivia caulescens allow these birds to perch on the flower stem and probe upwards for the nectar. Upright flowers, on the other hand, are nearly impossible for these birds to reach when perched on the stem. Rather than a perch, butterflies need a landing pad, which the upward-facing flowers of Clivia miniata provide. Upwards-facing flowers also allow the species to take advantage of butterflies that brush past as they explore and claim territory, collecting pollen on their wings and dispersing it onto the upright stamens. Kiepel and Johnson point out that these flower forms are similar to those found in other genera pollinated by either sunbirds or butterflies, respectively.

Other differences in flower physiology include lower pollen production and greater scent in Natal lily than in other members of the genus; birds require a greater amount of pollen than butterflies do, and rely much less on their sense of smell. The characteristics that did not change when the species shifted its pollination strategy are as interesting as those that did. Flower colour - a vibrant orange-red possessing a high UV reflectance, is the same for the sunbird and butterfly-pollinated clivias. Sunbirds and butterflies both have UV receptors, and are likely to be able to perceive the clivias in a very similar fashion. It is likely that this similarity in visual perception is one of the factors that made the change in pollinators possible. In case you want to know what a Clivia miniata flower looks like to a sunbird or butterfly, see Dr. Klaus Schmitt's image on the Photography of the Invisible World site.

Jul 16, 2014: Allium cristophii

Allium cristophii

A quick entry for the day about Allium cristophii, or the star of Persia. This photo was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool back in May of this year by Christopher (aka c.young@Flickr). Thanks for sharing, Christopher!

Allium cristophii (subgenus Melanocrommyum), of the Amaryllidaceae, is a bulbous perennial native to Iran, Turkey, and central Asia. It is planted ornamentally for its large, spherical, purple flower heads of over 100 individual flowers that bloom in the spring. The flower heads of this species are noted to be amongst the largest produced by ornamental onions at 20-25cm in diameter.

The star of Persia is mentioned to be easily grown. Planting in rich, sandy to gritty soil in well-drained loams in full sun should do the trick. Apparently they do well in dry, sunny areas, particularly as over-moist soils may cause bulb rot. This species may colonize over time. If you want to control unwanted spread, deadhead the flowers before seed set.

Today I did want to write about Helianthus annuus, as this species was mentioned in the news yesterday. However, it has been featured on Botany Photo of the Day both last year and in 2007. To quickly summarize, it was highlighted in the news from Nature that this flower species bends to track the path of the sun, and researchers have found it is not only a response to light, but also to an internal clock. To see more, check out the article and accompanying video.

Mar 20, 2014: Ipheion uniflorum

Ipheion uniflorum

Taisha writes:

Today, we have a photograph of Ipheion uniflorum, or the spring starflower. This image was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by frequent contributor, Christopher Young (aka c.young@Flickr"). Thanks, Christopher, for sharing!

Ipheion uniflorum (syn. Tristagma uniflorum) is a South American species, occurring natively in Argentina and Uruguay. Not difficult to grow, this bulbous species with its grassy foliage is often cultivated (and occasionally naturalizes in or near gardens). The spring starflower has attractive star-shaped flowers that range in colour from white to violet to blue.

The flowers have a mildly spicy fragrance. This smell is characteristic to many of the genera within the onion subfamily (Allioideae) of the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis family). Chemically, the scent is due to the presence of organosulfur compounds such as allyl propyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide and allyl methyl sulfide. These compounds are of economic use: they have been used as food flavourings, but also medicinally for antimicrobial and disease prevention properties.

Jan 12, 2011: Scadoxus multiflorus

Scadoxus multiflorus

Today's entry was written by Claire:

Richard Droker (wanderflechten@Flickr) of Seattle, Washington, provided us with this image taken in Zimbabwe of two Scadoxus multiflorus plants (via the BPotD Flickr Pool). Thank you Richard!

The Amaryllidaceae spans worldwide and currently includes 73 genera and 1605 species (including yesterday's Rhodophiala rhodolirion). It is common for members of this family to produce showy inflorescences from a single scape, and many are geophytes (growing from an underground storage organ, such as corms or bulbs).

Scadoxus multiflorus is a rhizomatous perennial that produces a pseudostem--a stem-like structure that is composed of the tightly-bundled leaf bases. Originating in tropical Africa, the species contains three subspecies. Two of the subspecies found commonly in cultivation are subsp. multiflorus and subsp. katherinae; descriptions and photographs of these can be found via the Pacific Bulb Society's Wiki: Scadoxus. A third subspecies, Scadoxus multiflorus subsp. longitubus is rare in cultivation and restricted to lowland rainforests from Guinea to Ghana (for more on many Scadoxus species, see Glorious Scadoxus (PDF) by Jonathan Hutchinson).

Plants only produce a single inflorescence each flowering season, from December through March (late summer to autumn in the southern hemisphere). The species grows in a number of habitats ranging from mountainous areas to savannah grassland to woodland. Scadoxus was previously placed in the genus Haemanthus (literally, "blood- flower"), but in addition to still being called blood-flower, it is also commonly known as "fireball lily". Calling it blood-flower may be a bit misleading depending on your interpretation, since Scadoxus multiflorus, like all nine species of the genus, is very poisonous. Some indigenous peoples of Africa have uses for the poisonous alkaloids found throughout the plants, including treating water bodies to poison fish and coating arrow tips. It is known to be lethal to livestock, who may eat it when other food sources are scarce.

Jan 11, 2011: Rhodophiala rhodolirion

Rhodophiala rhodolirion

Local plant enthusiast Alan Tracey sent this photograph a few days ago from Chile, taken during his explorations of Andean summer wildflowers. Thanks as always, Alan!

Rhodophiala translates to "red-saucer" or "red-shallow cup" (a reference to the broadly funnel-shaped red flowers) and rhodolirion to "red-" or "rose-lily". The latter name is in reference to the typical pink flower of today's species, seen in photographs here: añañuca de cordillera.

Native to Chile and Argentina, this taxon is one of thirty or so in the genus, all native to south Andean South America. Members of Rhodophiala have in the past been considered to be part of either Amaryllis (now solely recognized as a South African genus and quite distant phylogenetically within the family) or Hippeastrum. Though closely related, Presl's interpretation of this group of species as distinct from Hippeastrum is now generally accepted. However, I've been so far unable to track down a set of characteristics that justifies this (the width of the leaves is used as a character distinguishing the two genera in this Key to the Hippeastreae, but that would not typically be enough to taxonomically define two distinct groupings, so there must be other differences).

The Pacific Bulb Society Wiki has photographs of a dozen or so taxa and a few cultivated selections (and Rhodophiala phycelloides was previously featured on BPotD). All are similar in habit: lily-like flowers borne on leafless scapes with narrow strap-like leaves emerging from the bulbs.

Sep 16, 2010: Crinum asiaticum

Crinum asiaticum

Today's photograph, the third entry in the "Tropical Biodiversity" series, was taken in the Life Sciences Building Greenhouses of the Univ. of Connecticut by sftrajan@Flickr (a different Eric from San Francisco than the well-known contributor and commenter). Much appreciated! The original image was submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Crinum asiaticum was featured on Plant of the Week (main page more than a decade ago, but it's the first time a Crinum has appeared on BPotD. Crinum contains about 100 species. Plants of the genus typically grow at low elevations in wet areas (e.g., shores, swamps).

Commonly known in English as poison bulb, Crinum asiaticum is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas (it is native to tropical Asia, Mauritius, northern Australia and some Pacific Islands). Yet again, the Plants of Hawaii web site provides an extensive collection of additional images: Crinum asiaticum.

As an aside to local readers, the UBC Botanical Garden Indoor Plant Sale continues until 5pm on Friday (still a good selection of plants remaining!).

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