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Results tagged “april-18”

Apr 18, 2014: Delphinium luteum

Delphinium luteum

Another entry from Taisha today, who writes:

Delphinium luteum, known commonly as the yellow larkspur, is photographed here accompanied by an Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna). This capture was submitted to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by frequent contributor Sandy Steinman@Flickr. This photo was taken on April 11 in Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley California. Thanks for sharing, Sandy!

A member of the Ranunculaceae, Delphinium luteum is, like many members of the family, an herbaceous perennial. In the wild, the species is found on steep, rocky outcrops within the coastal sage scrub plant community of Sonoma and Marin Counties. This species has fleshy basal leaves and cornucopia-shaped yellow flowers; these have a posterior sepal elongated into a spur. Plants bloom from March through May, and the flowers are pollinated by visiting hummingbirds. Despite being self-compatible, seed set is much higher when outcrossing occurs.

Delphinium luteum exists naturally in fewer than a dozen populations, including some located on the privately-owned Larkspur Hill and Larkspur Rock. Delphinium luteum is listed by the US Endangered Species Act as endangered, with a similar status at the state level (Delphinium luteum on the CNPS Inventory). The yellow larkspur is threatened due to rock quarrying activities, overcollection, residential development, and sheep grazing. Fortunately, Delphinium luteum is easily grown in cultivation, with ex situ populations maintained by the University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley and the California Native Plant Society (in at least a couple sites as of 2002).

Apr 18, 2008: Hesperocallis undulata

Hesperocallis undulata

We'll sneak in one more species from California before turning our attention to plants from other places in the world for a little while. Today's photograph is courtesy of Ron Long. Ron and I had a good conversation about our recent (separate) travels a couple days ago, after he completed his presentation on Namaqualand to the UBC Friends of the Garden. He also made a trip to California this year, but he went earlier and visited the deserts, particularly Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Thanks for sharing, Ron!

Commonly known as desert lily, Hesperocallis undulata was traditionally placed in the lily family. With molecular techniques, though, there is strong evidence for it to be placed in the agave family (via a circuitous route that saw it jump from the lily family to the daylily family to its own family to the asparagus family). Wikipedia has a summary of its taxonomic placement, along with a reference to the 2004 paper suggesting placement in the Agavaceae.

The Flora of North America entry for Hesperocallis undulata lists its distribution as California, Arizona and Nevada, where it grows in "dry, sandy flats to rocky hills of creosote bush scrub in [the] Mojave and Sonoran deserts". Desert lily is also noted as a food plant by the Plants for a Future database.

The epithet undulata, as you might expect, refers to the wave-formed leaf margins of the species, a feature prominently shown in many of the photographs at CalPhotos.

I have yet to see this plant in person, but I certainly look forward to the day!

Apr 18, 2007: Erythronium americanum

Erythronium americanum

Another thank you to David Smith of Delaware for sharing a photograph with us of one of Delaware's native wildflowers (posted in this thread on the BPotD Submissions forum). Appreciated once again, David.

Common names for this eastern North American species include trout lily, American adder's tongue (a reference to the leaves) and dogtooth violet (a reference to the bulbs); an expanded explanation of the common names can be found on the Kemper Center for Home Gardening page for the plant.

Like many woodland understorey plants in eastern North America, Erythronium americanum produces leaves and flowers early in the spring, prior to the canopy trees flushing with leaves. This temporal adaptation is a method to maximize growth when light is most available to the plant, despite the cool temperatures associated with early spring. As it turns out, though, plant growth is optimal at cooler temperature regimes: see Lapointe, L and Lerat S. 2006. Annual growth of the spring ephemeral Erythronium americanum as a function of temperature and mycorrhizal status. Canadian Journal of Botany. 84:39-48. The researchers found that bulb biomass was increased for the set of plants exposed to a lower temperature regime (and that net nutrient uptake was not reduced for this set).

A scientific description of the genus Erythronium and Erythronium americanum can be found in the Flora of North America, while Missouri Plants has more photographs of the species and a shorter description.

Botany / horticulture resource link: I've linked to this site in a few previous entries, but not as a resource link – California Rare Fruit Growers “is the largest amateur fruit-growing organization in the world”. That 2007 Festival of the Fruit in San Diego is looking very appealing...! The site provides a number of excellent resources, including fruit factsheets.

Apr 18, 2006: Macrocystis pyrifera and Ardea alba

Macrocystis pyrifera and Ardea alba

Beds of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) provide a floating platform for the piscivorous (fish-eating) great egret in the marine waters of California's Point Lobos State Reserve. What you see from above the water as tangled mats of seaweed are the uppermost fronds of organisms which may reach heights of 60m (read more on Macrocystis pyrifera). In favourable areas, dense, underwater kelp forests form; these support a wide diversity of other organisms. For an excellent summary article on the biology of kelp forest ecosystems, see Steneck, R. et al. 2002. Kelp Forest Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Stability, Resilience and Future. Environmental Conservation. 29:436-459.

Kelps, or the Order Laminariales, are most diverse in the coastal waters of the temperate northeastern Pacific Ocean, with twenty species occurring from Alaska to Baja California.

Botany resource link: Plant for the Planet: A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners (PDF file), a small brochure on gardening with plant conservation in mind from Botanic Gardens Conservation International – Canada.


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