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Results tagged “asteraceae”

Dec 18, 2014: Arnica latifolia

Arnica latifolia

This photograph is from several summers ago. I hope I've identified the plant correctly. Arnica latifolia is commonly known as mountain arnica or broadleaf arnica. It is widely distributed in western North America from Alaska to northern California and east as far as Wyoming and Colorado. As one common name implies, it is generally a species of mid- to high-elevations. Habitats where it can be found vary, ranging from forests to rocky slopes to meadows.

Identification of Arnica latifolia can be problematic, as plants can be similar in appearance to Arnica cordifolia. The latter species, though, has pubescent leaves and achenes, larger capitula (flower heads) and a tendency to grow as single plants. Complicating the matter of identification even more is that the two species hybridize, and, to quote the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, "numerous intermediates may be encountered".

Digging a little deeper thanks to the late Dr. Gerald Straley's 1980 Ph.D. thesis, Systematics of Arnica, Straley asserts that Arnica latifolia likely evolved from Arnica cordifolia, and, "The close relationship of these two species can be seen in numerous populations which combine many of the morphological characters of both species". In turn, Straley also notes that Arnica latifolia is likely the progenitor species of the serpentine endemic Arnica cernua and perhaps a hybrid parent of the subalpine-alpine Arnica gracilis.

Something else I will have to keep in mind for future identifications in the field thanks to Dr. Straley is that Arnica cordifolia has leaves that are distinctly fragrant when bruised, compared with little to no fragrance in Arnica latifolia (now I have to wait until next summer to try this...).

Nov 28, 2014: Artemisia tridentata subsp. tridentata

Artemisia tridentata subsp. tridentata

Another entry from Tamara Bonnemaison today, who writes:

This Artemisia tridentata subsp. tridentata, or basin big sagebrush, was photographed by Cliff Hutson (aka The Marmot@Flickr) at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, California. I have taken many washed out, grey photos of fields of Artemisia, and thought Cliff did a particularly good job of highlighting the beauty of this plant against a dark backdrop. Thank you Cliff!

Artemisia tridentata, or big sagebrush, is a ubiquitous species that dominates landscapes of the Intermountain West of North America. Anyone who lives in this area likely has some kind of affinity with big sagebrush; I grew up in the South Okanagan of British Columbia, and can still close my eyes and remember the intense smell of sage and wet dust after a summer rain. Once, a close friend who invited her family over for Thanksgiving dinner found that the turkey was inedible. She later learned that the big sagebrush she had rubbed all over it was not the same type of sage called for by her recipe. Artemisia tridentata has the ability to elicit a personal and often visceral response from people, even those who would usually not give plants a second thought.

Artemisia tridentata subsp. tridentata is the most widespread of the 4 or 5 recognized subspecies of big sagebrush. The prolific Thomas Nuttall first described Artemisia tridentata in 1841, following collection of an Oregonian specimen obtained during the Wyeth Expedition of 1834-1837. Big sagebrush is a species of importance to many aboriginal peoples of North America, and is called kéwku by the Secwepemc people and ʔa•knuqǂuq̓unaʔqa by the Ktunaxa. The links above include sound-clips of the correct pronunciation for these names.

Big sagebrush is a pale grey evergreen shrub that reaches 0.5 to 3 meters in height. One property that maximizes its ability to access groundwater is a combination of a deep tap root and extensive fibrous root network. Also contributing to its tolerance of dry conditions, its small, silver-haired leaves ensure a minimum of moisture is lost in the hot arid climate favoured by the species. Artemisia tridentata improves conditions for surrounding plants, as the taproot brings water closer to the surface, and the above-ground parts of the plant create shade for grasses and herbs. Small herbaceous plants growing under a big sagebrush are often taller and denser than plants growing in the open. Big sagebrush is also of benefit to many animal species, such as the sage grouse and mule deer, and is host to many gall-forming insects, including Rhopalomyia medusa, which was featured in a previous BPotD entry.

Hugh Nelson Mozingo covers Artemisia tridentata extensively in his book, Shrubs of the Great Basin: a Natural History. In his chapter dedicated to big sagebrush, Mozingo puzzles over the disdain that cattle have for this species, despite the high nutrient value of its leaves (much higher than alfalfa, Medicago sativa). The author hypothesizes that cattle dislike the flavour of a group of volatile compounds found within the big sagebrush's leaves and that wild deer, who browse extensively on the species, compensate by "belching" the compounds as they chew. The inability (or at least unwillingness) of cattle to consume sagebrush has dramatically changed the Intermountain West landscape. In the past, bunchgrasses and forbs were much more common, but cattle have selectively consumed those plant types, and have left near monocultures of big sagebrush in their wake.

Sep 25, 2014: Cichorium intybus

Cichorium intybus

Another entry today that was written by Taisha prior to her departure. She wrote:

Thank you to Mats Ellting (aka Mellting@Flickr) for today's image of Cichorium intybus, or chicory. Mats uploaded the image to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Cichorium intybus is a member of the Asteraceae or sunflower/aster family. The species is considered to be native to a wide swath of Eurasia (USDA GRIN), but it has also naturalized in other areas of the world where it has been introduced. Since this species has been cultivated globally for centuries for medicinal and culinary uses, its native range may be smaller than suggested by the Germplasm Resources Information Network (they do note, "exact native range obscure"). It was first transported to North America in the sixteenth century. The species can now be found in much of North America growing abundantly along roadsides, lawns, pastures, fields, and waste places. In some places (like British Columbia), Cichorium intybus is considered a noxious weed.

It is presumed that the ancient Egyptians were the first to cultivate this species, using it for medicinal purposes, a type of coffee, a vegetable crop, and occasionally for animal forage. Since then, it has been cultivated for many additional applications, and can be divided into types according to their use: "industrial" or "root" chicory is grown for the taproot to produce a coffee substitute or for inulin and fructans; "Brussels" or "witloof" chicory is grown in such a way that the roots are used for the production of etiolated buds or chicons by forcing; "leaf" chicory is used as a fresh or cooked vegetable; and "forage" chicory has been used since the 1970s to increase herbage availability in perennial pastures for livestock (see: Street, R., et al. 2013. Cichorium intybus: Traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology. Evid. Based Complement Alternat. Med.. doi: 10.1155/2013/579319 ).

Cichorium intybus varieties have important medicinal uses. Different parts of the plant have been used medicinally for a variety of complaints such as surface wounds, swelling and inflammation, stomach ailments, and diabetes. Nonetheless, many of this species' constituents have not been studied for pharmacological potential. Chicory is reputed to have a long history of traditional therapeutic use in areas where it has been naturalized. According to Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman, the Cherokee made a tonic infused with the roots to treat nerves, and the Iroquois used a root decoction as a wash and poultice applied to chancres and fever sores.

Aug 7, 2014: Xerochrysum bracteatum

Xerochrysum bracteatum

Today we have a photo of Xerochrysum bracteatum, known commonly as straw flower or everlasting flower. This photo was taken by Anne Elliott (aka annkelliott@Flickr) back in May, and uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks for sharing, Anne!

Native to Australia, Xerochrysum bracteatum (previously in the genus Helichrysum or Bracteantha) of the Asteraceae, can be either an annual or perennial species depending on conditions. Straw flower occurs in most states and territories of the country, along forest margins, in deserts, and in sub-alpine areas. This species grows up to a metre in height, has green-grey leaves, and produces its flowers from spring through the summer. The central disc of flowers is surrounded by an involucre of rigid, papery bracts of yellow, red, orange, pink, or white. The bracts retains their colour, hence the common name, everlasting flower. This species is commercially grown for the dried flower market, although it is also a long-lasting fresh cut flower.

Many cultivars of Xerochrysum bracteatum are available, and are easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Seeds can be sown indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date, and can then be moved outdoors. To dry straw flowers, simply cut some from the garden and hang upside down in a dark, airy place for a few weeks.

Jun 26, 2014: Eriophyllum lanatum

Eriophyllum lanatum

Woolly sunflower has been featured previously on Botany Photo of the Day (see Eriophyllum lanatum for an extended write-up and a photo of the whole plant). This photograph was taken last Friday evening in the Garden's Garry Oak Meadow and Woodland Garden. This area of the Garden is starting to look its summertime-brown, with most species drying and going to seed. Eriophyllum lanatum is one exception, with flowering just on the other side of peak. A few other members of the Asteraceae (or composite family) are also in bloom, as well as Allium cernuum (nodding onion) and some flowering shrubs (Holodiscus discolor, Sambucus caerulea, and what I thought was rather prolific this year, Philadelphus lewisii).

Apr 23, 2014: Dalles Mountain Road

Here are several photographs from this past weekend's trip to the Columbia Gorge area east of Portland, Oregon. To read more about the taxonomically-difficult Columbia Gorge lupine, see this entry on "Lupinus onustus" from 2007. The name still doesn't seem to be resolved seven years later. For example, the Oregon Flora Atlas uses Lupinus latifolius × Lupinus sericeus, as does Paul Slichter, but the Burke Museum uses Lupinus latifolius var. thompsonianus. The Balsamorhiza is a slightly less difficult to identify and name properly, though Paul Slichter describes some of the challenges with these as well in his Balsamroots of the Columbia Gorge page. I'm fairly confident that the ones in the close-up photo are of Balsamorhiza deltoidea, though I am now less certain about my identification in this 2007 entry.

And, I photographed the Easter Bunny.

Feb 25, 2014: Senecio pectinatus

Senecio pectinatus

A thank you to Bill Higham (Bill Higham@Flickr and personal website The Cut Monkey) for sharing today's photograph of Senecio pectinatus. Much appreciated!

According to the 2012 Census of Tasmanian Vascular Plants (PDF), Senecio pectinatus var. pectinatus is the only variety that occurs in Tasmania. The Tasmanian census records it is endemic to the state, while A Census of the Vascular Plants of Victoria lists it as uncertainly occurring in that state as well (this isn't accordance with the current Wikipedia account: Senecio pectinatus. Another variety, Senecio pectinatus var. major, occurs in Victoria and New South Wales.

As the common name implies, alpine groundsel is a high elevation herbaceous perennial, associated with peaty soils and open, alpine landscapes. A photo of the entire plant can be seen here, via Wikimedia Commons: Senecio pectinatus.

Feb 21, 2014: Zinnia grandiflora

Zinnia grandiflora

Taisha is both the author and photographer for today's entry (though I made a crop of her original photograph, which is here). She writes:

Zinnia grandiflora is also known as Rocky Mountain zinnia, plains zinnia, or prairie zinnia. I took this photo late last August in UBC's E. H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden. I wanted to feature something from UBC Botanical Garden, and settled on an older photo as most of the flowers I've photographed at this time of year have been written about previously, like Eranthis hyemalis and Galanthus nivalis 'Viridapice'. To follow what else is in bloom in the Garden, several people post updates to the Talk About UBC Botanical Garden forum.

According to Flower Breeding and Genetics (Neil Anderson, ed.), Zinnia belongs to the tribe Heliantheae within Asteraceae, and consists of 19 species of annual herbs or perennial shrubs. The centre for diversity of the genus is Mexico, with species mainly distributed throughout North America. One exception is Zinnia peruviana, which has a native range from Arizona to Argentina. Many annual zinnias are cultivated for use as bedding plants and cut flowers. Linnaeus named the genus in honor of German anatomist and botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759).

Zinnia grandiflora is a perennial member of the genus. Plants grow in small mounds low to the ground, spreading vegetatively by creeping rhizomes. Yellow flowers cover the mat of needle-like leaves when it's in flower. Thriving in gravelly soil without much need for water, this species is found growing wild in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Feb 3, 2014: Coreopsis rosea

Taisha is both the photographer and writer for today's entry (photos are from last autumn). She writes:

Coreopsis rosea, or the pink tickseed, is a perennial species in the Asteraceae. This taxon is found on sandy shores or marsh edges of coastal eastern North America, in three disjunct groupings: 1) Nova Scotia, Canada; 2) Massachusetts to Delaware, USA; and 3) South Carolina & Georgia, USA. It is also an ornamental species of gardens. Plants bear composite inflorescences, with pink (to white) ray flowers surrounding yellow disc florets. Stems are 10-60 cm in height and lined with a series of oppositely-arranged linear-lanceolate leaves. The dry fruits (cypselae) are oblong without wings or pappi (modified calyces).

The pink tickseed is globally rare. In Canada, it is a federally endangered species (latest assessment: 2013), occurring only at the northern limit of the plant community termed the Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF) (a region which extends south to Florida). This floral group is threatened mainly due to habitat loss along the American eastern seaboard and adjacent Canada. In Nova Scotia, dams are of particular concern, as their placement often corresponds with watershed lakes that serve as habitat for species of the ACPF. Over half of the most important shorelines on watershed lakes in Nova Scotia have been lost as ACPF habitat. As Coreopsis rosea is at its northernmost limit in Nova Scotia, it is thought that length of growing season may be a determining factor for its distribution and abundance, as well as other species in the community.

In a study by Lusk & Reekie from the Acadia University Department of Biology, the researchers sought to test the effects of length of growing season (particularly with respect to hydrology and flooded conditions) on species from the ACPF including Coreopsis rosea. The hope was to gain a better understanding of the limiting variables affecting this group to better manage and maintain the plant community.

Beginning at the end of June 2004, Lusk & Reekie transplanted Coreopsis rosea (along with Hydrocotyle umbellata) at three lakes with different hydrological regimes within southwestern Nova Scotia's Tusket River system. The transplants were planted at several depths on three different occasions using four week intervals. The researchers visited the plants every two weeks, only ceasing over the winter months. Water levels, plant survival, flowering, and plant growth were measured, observed and recorded. At the end of August 2005, the transplants were harvested, dried, and weighed. It was found that transplant date and depth both affected the biomass and flowering of Coreopsis rosea with results varying at each of the lakes. In general, transplants planted higher on the shoreline and earlier in the year were both larger and more copiously flowering than those planted lower along the lakeshores or later in the year.

With this information, Lusk & Reekie suggested that dam reservoirs can provide appropriate habitat for certain Coastal Plain species if water levels are managed. They proposed that lowering water levels of reservoirs in the spring and during times of high precipitation would increase growing season and decrease flood stress. The authors also suggested to raise water levels in the autumn to prevent cold damage. Lastly, the researchers suggested their study can be used to address gaps in the ACPF recovery plan (PDF), in order to better help protect and conserve at-risk species within this group (see: Lusk, J, and EG Reekie. 2007. The effect of growing season length and water level fluctuations on growth and survival of two rare species and at risk Atlantic Coastal Plain flora species, Coreopsis rosea and Hydroctyle umbellata. Canadian Journal of Botany. 85(2):119-131).

Jan 29, 2014: Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea

Today's write-up is again courtesy of Taisha, who scribes:

Echinacea purpurea is also known as the purple-coneflower. This photograph was taken by Daniel Grobbel-Rank@Flickr last summer in Frankfurt Botanical Garden. Thank you for the photo, Daniel!

Echinacea purpurea is a herbaceous perennial member of the Asteraceae. Its composite inflorescence contains striking purple ray florets and conically-arranged darker disk florets. This is native to parts of eastern and central North America. Due to its popularity in herbal medicine, it is grown commercially. It is also highly ornamental and found in many a garden, and can be considered a garden escape in parts of Europe.

A long history of medicinal use has been documented. First Nations uses include treatment for infection and anti-toxin for snake bites. According to Daniel Moerman's book, Native American Ethnobotany, the Choctaw used the root for a cough medicine and gastrointestinal aid, while the Lenape (aka Delaware) combined echinacea root with staghorn sumac root for venereal diseases.

Presently, this species and its relatives have high commercial value (estimates range between 100 and 300 million USD for annual US sales in the 2008-2010 calendar years, with most in the lower end of the range). This is because of the purported ability for echinacea products (extracted from Echinacea purpurea and other related species) to prevent the common cold and/or treat upper respiratory tract infections. When researching this assertion, I will say there were contradicting claims in the literature as to whether using echinacea is effective or not for treating such ailments. Data supporting the use of echinacea products as a herbal medicine are unclear, in large part because there is variation and little standardization in commercially available products. This variation is due to several factors, including (but not limited to) the part of the plant used for extracts and the species being used along with its relative concentration of the active compounds. In a critical review on the medicinal properties of echinacea by B. Barrett, the author noted the use of Echinacea spp. to treat acute upper respiratory tract infections is moderately supported, while the use to prevent the common cold is less supported as the quality of evidence is limited. However, more quality research on Echinacea purpurea and its relatives remains necessary (see: Barret, B. 2003. Medicinal Properties of Echinacea: A critical review. Phytomedicine. 10:66-86).

For more, also see Dr. Alain Boucher's Ph.D thesis from UBC in 2008, Recommendations for selection efforts to improve the therapeutic quality of Echinacea angustifolia crops in British Columbia.

Dec 19, 2013: Syncarpha vestita

Retired UBC Botanical Garden educator David Tarrant sent along these photographs from his November excursion to South Africa's Cape Floristic Region. Thank you, David.

Syncarpha vestita has the common name of Cape snow in English or [wit]sewejaartjie in Afrikaans. The genus is restricted to the Eastern Cape and Western Cape regions of South Africa, with about 30 species. In the evergreen fire-dependent shrubland known as fynbos, Cape snow is one of the many different shrubby species of this region.

David noted to me in his email that Syncarpha vestita has upright woolly grey-green leaves that overlap and large rounded composite flower heads with papery white bracts. From a distance, Plantzafrica describes these plants as "[resembling] flocks of beautiful, clean sheep". Plantzafrica (first link in the previous paragraph) also suggests that the pollinators for Syncarpha vestita are likely palynivorous (pollen-eating) beetles such as Spilocephalus viridipennis and Trichostetha capensis.

Syncarpha vestita is also described as a fire-ephemeral species. Seeds germinate after fires (fires are often lightning-induced). The seedlings grow rapidly, so this shrublet will often be a major component of the plant community for the seven or so years following a fire. After seven years, the dynamics of the plant community are such that Syncarpha vestita gets outcompeted by initially slower-growing species and begins to decline in number. The strategy for Cape snow is to then exist as dormant seeds, waiting for the next fire (it is akin to the hare from the tortoise and the hare stories). To read more about the germination of the seed after fires, see: Brown, NAC. 1993. Seed Germination in the Fynbos Fire Ephemeral, Syncarpha vestita (L.) B. Nord. is Promoted by Smoke, Aqueous Extracts of Smoke and Charred Wood Derived from Burning the Ericoid-Leaved Shrub, Passerina vulgaris Thoday. (PDF). Int. J. Wildland Fire. 3(4):203-206.

Sep 19, 2013: Townsendia condensata

Taisha wrote today's entry with input from the photographer of the images.

Today's photos are of Townsendia condensata, or the cushion Townsend daisy (sometimes, cushion Easter-daisy). Picking up on a few entries written earlier this year, this species is also featured in the book Alpine Plants of British Columbia, Alberta, and Northwest North America by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon.

The photographs and distribution map are courtesy of Chris Lee (thank you!). Chris is a PhD candidate here at the University of British Columbia, working with Dr. Jeannette Whitton to examine patterns of relationships between members of the genus Townsendia. Chris also happened to be the teaching assistant for a course I completed over the summer, Plants and People.

Townsendia condensata, of the Asteraceae, is a cushion-forming species that grows only 1-2cm tall. It is stemless (or nearly so) with mostly basal, spoon-shaped, white hairy leaves. The solitary flower heads are made up of white or occasionally pink ray florets and numerous yellow to orange disk florets. The soft and hairy involucres are narrow and scaled (see: Parry, CC. 1874. Botanical Observations in Western Wyoming. The American Naturalist. 8:211-213).

This species is found at elevations between 10500 and 11500 feet (~2300-3500 meters) on rocky slopes, talus & fell fields and alpine zones in southwestern Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah with a disjunct population in California. Chris commented that the distribution pattern of this species is interesting, noting that the disjunct populations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California are separated from other Townsendia condensata not only by vast distances, but also by a huge dispersal barrier, the Great Basin. While the distance between the Rocky Mountain populations in Alberta and Wyoming is also significant, he points out that they are connected as a part of the same mountain range with potentially similar habitat, while habitat of the intervening Great Basin is vastly different than the mountainous Sierra Nevada Range and the Rocky Mountains.

Chris has a few suggestions to explain this distribution pattern. One, that in distant geological time, before the formation of the Great Basin, the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains habitat was more similar to each other, and that perhaps Townsendia condensata had a wider distribution spanning California to Wyoming. Over geological time, as the Great Basin sank and the mountains rose around it, the habitat of the Great Basin became less suitable for this species and thus only the mountain populations survived. This would imply that Townsendia condensata is quite an ancient species! Another option he suggests is that the seeds could have been dispersed by a bird, either from California to Wyoming, or vice versa. Lastly, he also mentions that members of these populations look nearly identical, but that they could still be different species altogether. This happens to be what Chris is addressing as a part of his research by using chloroplast DNA from dried leaf material of recently collected plants and comparing the differences in the DNA of both populations along with other species of Townsendia. If the DNA is dissimilar, then it may be two different species, but if similar, then the two biogeographic explanations would have to be researched further.

Jul 4, 2013: Tragopogon dubius

Tragopogon dubius

And another entry with Taisha as the author (I'm on vacation). She writes:

Today's photo of Tragopogon dubius, or the yellow or western salsify, was taken by Brian Van Snellenberg (aka brianv_vancouver@Flickr) on June 4 in Summerland, British Columbia. According to Parish et al. in Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia, the genus Tragopogon is often referred to goat's-beard, as Greek philosopher Theophrastus observed that the hairy pappus extending beyond the tip of the closed flowers resembled that of a bearded goat. Thank you Brian for today's photograph!

Of the Asteraceae, Tragopogon dubius is one of about 140 members of the goat's-beard genus. This species is of Old World origin (native to Eurasia and northern Africa). The western salsify now grows across North America, having been introduced to the continent by early settlers where it later escaped cultivation and is now considered weedy. It prefers dry grassy places, often alongside Tragopogon pratensis. This species, along with other members of the goat's-beard genus, is of concern in the rangelands of British Columbia, Canada as it competes with native forage species such as Pseudoroegneria spicata (blue-bunch wheatgrass). (see: Clements, D. R. et al. 1998. The biology of Canadian weeds. 110. Tragopogon dubius Scop., Tragopogon pratensis L. and Tragopogon porrifolius L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 79(1): 153-163.).

Linear grass-like leaves clasp the base of a stem that becomes hollow beneath the flower's head. When either the leaf or stem is broken, a sticky, milky sap exudes. Ten or more involucral bracts extend past the yellow ray flowers. Salsify is from the French salsifis and Latin solsequium which is derived from both sol (sun) and sequium (follower), and as the name suggests the flowers of this species close at midday or cloudy weather, and face the sun in the morning and evening. The seeds with slender beaks and an umbrella-like pappus are dispersed by wind.

Feb 14, 2013: Helianthus annuus hybrid

Helianthus annuus hybrid

Just the photograph today, folks. This is a hybrid annual sunflower from last autumn in UBC Botanical Garden's Food Garden, photographed at eye level (so the plant was "only" 2m (6 ft.) in height).

Nov 28, 2012: Psilocarphus brevissimus var. brevissimus

Psilocarphus brevissimus var. brevissimus

Today's photograph is courtesy of local field botanist Dr. Terry McIntosh. Terry took this image near Princeton, British Columbia in early September a couple years ago. Thank you!

Psilocarphus brevissimus has two recognized varieties: the Californian var. multiflorus and the far more widespread var. brevissimus. The latter can be found throughout western North America (see distribution map, but note incorrect absence from British Columbia), Baja California and parts of South America (Argentina and Chile). The reason for the disjunct (or widely separated) distribution isn't addressed in the resources I've read, but given the habitat requirements of the species, it can be imagined. Psilocarphus brevissimus is a species found along the drying margins of seasonally-inundated sites (like vernal pools and ditches). Long-distance seed dispersal via waterfowl or shorebirds seems the likely explanation.

Known commonly as short woollyheads or (my preference) woolly marbles, Psilocarphus brevissimus var. brevissimus is rare in some parts of its range, including British Columbia where it is a red-listed taxon restricted to the Princeton area. It is a low-growing annual, ranging from 2-10cm (1-4in.) tall.

Michael Charters' excellent California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations provides a meaning for Psilocarphus: the Greek psilos means "bare" or "naked" while karphos means "a splinter, twig, chaff, straw". This is in reference to the disk flowers in this genus not being subtended by chaffy scales (likely in comparison with a genus that is similar in appearance). The specific epithet means "very short" (same word root as "brevity").

A few additional photographs and illustrations are available via the Alberta Native Plant Council: Psilocarphus brevissimus var. brevissimus (PDF).

Sep 18, 2012: Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea

Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea

Thank you to BPotD Flickr Group Pool contributor neomyrtus@Flickr for today's image of the Australian (Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea).

Common names for this taxon include pink and white everlasting and rosy sunray. Scientifically, it has been known in the past as Helipterum roseum and Acroclinium roseum. With the publication of a 1992 paper, botanist Paul Graham Wilson shifted many taxa into Rhodanthe, including this one.

A sun-loving annual (like most annuals), plants can grow to about 60cm (2ft.) high under ideal conditions. It is a popular garden plant for its fast growth, long-lived inflorescence and overall appearance; for more about the taxon in cultivation, see Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea (via the Australian National Botanic Gardens).

Aug 1, 2012: Kettle Mountain Meadows

I thought I'd add a visual coda to the series on colours in plants, since Bryant is feeling under the weather today. These photographs are from last weekend's near-solitary field-trip up to the peak of Kettle Mountain while I was attending Botany BC. As of a few weeks ago, these meadows formed part of the northeast edge of the Cascade Recreation Area, but they have now been added to E.C. Manning Provincial Park. One hopes that this might mean additional enforcement in dealing with those who despoil the meadows by driving off-trail (examples of both responsible and irresponsible use if one searches Youtube for "Whipsaw" and "Trail").

May 24, 2012: Krigia virginica

Krigia virginica

The final natural site we visited during our group trip to the southeast USA a few weeks ago was the Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area near Athens, Georgia. Like many of the sites we visited, we heard "You should have been here three weeks ago" for the best flower displays, as the warm spring had advanced everything by several weeks. Still, we found a number of species of interest, including this Virginia dwarf-dandelion in fruit. It's intriguing structure combined with a bit of morning dew made it a favourite for many photographers that day.

To give a sense of scale, this plant is only about 15cm (6 in.) tall. Many additional photographs showing plants throughout much of the life cycle are available from MissouriPlants: Krigia virginica. For a photograph of a plant resembling a dandelion when losing its seeds, see the blog "Anybody Seen My Focus?": Virginia dwarf-dandelion.

The USDA PLANTS database shows this taxon as occurring throughout much of the eastern USA, as well as occurring in Quebec and British Columbia. The Database of Vascular Plants of Canada notes that the presence of Krigia virginica in Quebec is doubtful, while the British Columbia occurrences are from introduced plants (mapped via E-Flora BC: Krigia virginica).

The Flora of North America entry for Krigia virginica notes the potential for this annual to become an introduction beyond its range, because of "its weedy habit". Other sites, like the Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois, comment that it "is an adorable little plant" and the MissouriPlants site suggests it "would look good in a cultivated rock garden".

FNA also makes note of an interesting morphological tidbit: "Plants collected late in the season have a branching habit remarkably unlike the scapiform vernal form". Today's photograph is of the typical scapiform vernal form, that is, a spring-flowering plant (vernal) with a inflorescence on a single, leafless stalk (scape).

Feb 23, 2012: Bidens vulgata

Bidens vulgata

Thank you to Robert W. Smith, a first-time contributor, for sharing today's photograph with us via the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum in this thread. 'Tis appreciated!

Robert called this species tall beggar-ticks, but big devils beggar-tick is also used. Some sources cite it as being native only to eastern North America, while others (e.g., GRIN) suggest it is native to both east and west. It is considered a red-listed (rare) species in British Columbia--a designation which wouldn't apply to an introduced species. That it has been introduced to Europe (where it has sometimes naturalized) is not in doubt, however.

This photograph was taken in an open wooded floodplain, which is consistent with its typical habitat: "Ditches, shores of lakes and streams, swamps, marshes, moist woods, roadsides, railroads, fields, waste areas" (via Flora of North America: Bidens vulgata).

Dr. John Hilty's Illinoiswildflowers.info site contains an excellent factsheet about the species: Bidens vulgata.

Jan 24, 2012: Shell Creek Road

Shell Creek Road

Here is another photograph from a favourite area of mine in California, taken on April 5, 2010 (the same day as this photograph). Instead of identifying the plants when photographing these areas, I tend to just spend my limited time behind the camera. Fortunately, others who have the opportunity to spend more time with the plants have added some documentation, so I think it is relatively reasonable to use resources like Nature Alley to assign some names.

The small yellow flower that dominates the image is certainly a Lasthenia, or goldfields, but I would feel very uncertain assigning it to species. The purple inflorescences belong to a Castilleja, probably Castilleja densiflora. Resources for the area suggest that the remaining white and yellow coloured blossom is almost certainly the broadly-distributed Layia platyglossa.

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