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Results tagged “fabaceae”

Dec 3, 2014: Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis

Tamara Bonnemaison is the author of today's entry. She writes:

Today I was inspired by dustaway@Flickr's photographs of Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis (second image), taken at the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Garden in Australia. Thank you!

I had never heard of this species, and upon seeing the image of the plant in bloom, it felt very familiar - reminding me of other members of the Fabaceae such as one of my favourite species, silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus), and one of my least favourite, the locally-invasive Scottish broom (Cytisus scoparius). I then saw the photo of the fruit, and although it was obvious that these were leguminous, they were quite unlike anything that I had seen before.

The seedpods of Sophora tomentosa have resulted in the assignment of a colourful and descriptive common name: yellow necklacepod. Yellow necklacepod has 10-18 cm long pods that are strongly constricted between each of the 5-10 seeds. The indehiscent pods start out a light yellow-green, and mature to the husky brown shown in dustaway's otherworldly photo.

Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis is an uncommon shrub of seashores in the states of Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. This subspecies is of conservation concern, likely due to the limited range and coastal development. Its leaves are covered by grey to white hairs that give this species its other common name, silver bush, as well as its Latin species name tomentosa, meaning "covered with dense woolly hairs". Tomentose leaves are a common characteristic of coastal plant species, evolved to mitigate the heat and moisture stress common in such environments.

While researching this taxon, I learned of the work of the visual artist Sophie Munns. She has also seemingly been inspired by it. It's worth taking a look at her series of colourful and dynamic paintings of various types of seedpods.

Nov 13, 2014: Mucuna holtonii

Tamara Bonnemaison wrote today's entry:

Today I have selected two photos taken by Reinaldo Aguilar (aka Reinaldo Aguilar@Flickr), one of the authors of the Vascular Plants of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Reinaldo's images show an otherworldly Mucuna holtonii taken at Charcos, Puntarenas, Costa Rica (other image and complete Mucuna album). I am really excited to write about this species; thank you Reinaldo for providing the photos!

I was inspired to learn more about Mucuna holtonii after reading a National Geographic article about plants that "speak" to bats. This beautifully-written article, "Call of the Bloom", follows the work of Dr. Ralph Simon through his discovery that many bat-pollinated tropical plants have special features that reflect sonar in particular ways, allowing bats to quickly find them in the dark and over large distances. Mucuna holtonii was one of the first species examined for its capacity to guide echo-locating bats to its nectar-rich flowers. This neotropical vine grows high in jungle canopies of central America, and dangles its flower clusters on long stems, isolating the night-blooming flowers from surrounding vegetation. This on its own provides ideal conditions for bats to locate the flower and access its nectar, but the species makes this process even easier through an adaptation that bounces back the bat's sonar at a high amplitude.

Like many other members of the pea family, the flowers of Mucuna holtonii have a banner, keel, and wings formed by 5 irregular petals. In Mucuna holtonii, the banner (also called the vexillum or standard) is waxy, concave and is raised like a flag (or should I say a satellite dish) as the flower bud opens. Today's photo shows this quite clearly, and it is easy to imagine sound bouncing off of the banner's surface in a clear and concentrated manner. The researchers Dagmar and Otto von Helversen found that the presence of these banners made a remarkable difference in bat visitation rates. In their study, 88% of virgin flowers were visited by bats, but when the researchers removed the banners, that number dropped to only 21%. Mucuna holtonii is but one of many plant species that makes itself more visible to echolocating pollinators. In an effort to find other plants with acoustic capabilities, Dr. Ralph Simon has started the Flower Echo Project, and has so far tested the echoes of over 65 flower species.

Flower-bat communication is only one of the many interesting features of Mucuna holtonii. Although I did not come across any common names for this species, the seeds of many Macuna species are referred to as "sea beans" because they often float down rivers and into the ocean (they are also called hamburger beans for their appearance). Washed up on far-away shores, the beautiful black seeds are often polished and strung to form necklaces and bracelets. Kew Garden's Economic Botany Collection is home to one such bracelet, made of a combination of Mucuna holtonii seeds and the smaller seeds of three other species.

Aug 25, 2014: Bauhinia galpinii

Bauhinia galpinii

Here is entry number six in Taisha's South African plants and biomes series. She writes:

Bauhinia galpinii, known as Pride of the Cape or Pride of De Kaap, is featured today as part of the savanna biome. Even though the name may suggest it is from the Cape (de kaap= cape), it is actually named after the De Kaap valley in the northeastern region of South Africa. This 2007 photo was taken by frequent BPotD contributor, Bart Wursten (aka zimbart@Flickr), in Manica, Mozambique. In addition to South Africa and Mozambique, the species is also present in Zimbabwe. Thanks for sharing, Bart!

The savanna biome spans a large area over the lowveld and Kalahari regions of South Africa. Elevation ranges between sea-level and 2000 m. Summers are very hot and rainy in this region, with temperatures anywhere between 12 and 39°C. This is followed by a cooler dry season where temperatures range from 0-32°C. Annual rainfall varies from 235mm-1000mm in the biome, and some parts of it may be frost-free while others can have up to 120 days of frost/year. Many of the major soil types (PDF) are represented in the region, though soils are usually porous, quick-draining, and with a thin layer of humus.

The savanna has a distinguishable grass-dominated ground layer accompanied by the different densities of woody shrubs and trees (shrubs may be the most prolific plants in overgrazed areas). C4 grasses form much of the grass layer where there is a hot growing season (C4 photosynthesis is best-suited for heat), while C3 grasses tend to be in the majority in cooler, wetter parts of the biome. Many plant species are adapted to survive fires, and most will resprout from stem bases even after severe burning.

Bauhinia galpinii is a fabaceous shrub with two-lobed leaves and bright red-orange flowers. This species is traditionally used medicinally by the Venda (or vhaVenda) people of the Limpopo province. In Mahwasane et al.'s survey of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by the traditional healers of Limpopo's Lwamondo area, the roots of Bauhinia galpinii are boiled and the mixture drunk to treat stomach worms or to improve sexual performance. They also add that the concoction can be used to make a soft porridge for stomach pains. The researchers further mention that other studies have claimed that this species is used for treating diarrhea and infertility (bark and leaves), for infertility using the roots, or for amenorrhea (seeds). Traditional healers (herbalists) of the vhaVenda use up to 16 species of herbs, trees, or shrubs within seven families for medicinal purposes. Those from the Fabaceae are used most frequently; other families represented were Annonaceae, Asteraceae, Ebenaceae, Orobanchaceae, Oxalidaceae, and Verbenaceae. Different plant parts are collected from the medicinal species, most often the roots (also the leaves, bark, flowers, or whole plant), and diversely prepared for treating the above illnesses as well as others, including stomach ailments, dysmenorrhoea and oedema (see: Mahwasane, S., L. Middleton, and N. Baoduo. (2013). An ethnobotanical survey of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by the traditional healers of the Lwamondo area, Limpopo province, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany. 88:69-75).

Jul 21, 2014: Hoita strobilina

It's always a treat to feature a photograph from the late James Gaither (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr). Today we feature Hoita strobilina (image 1 | image 2), or Loma Prieta hoita, of the Fabaceae. These photographs were taken in Regional Parks Botanic Garden, in Tilden Regional Park in the Berkeley Hills in July of 2009, and uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks again, James!

Hoita strobilina is a threatened, perennial herb endemic to California. It occurs naturally in chaparral or oak woodland on serpentine, or Franciscan-formation substrata. It descends into gravelly creek beds draining from the mountains into the Santa Clara Valley. This species went largely unnoticed (and without protection measures) until a comprehensive monograph was conducted. It is now listed as rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere by the California Native Plant Society. The CNPS also notes that this species is threatened by urbanization, and possibly by feral pigs and foot traffic.

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.

Mar 25, 2014: Calliandra eriophylla

Calliandra eriophylla

Hugh and Carol Nourse@Flickr, of Georgia, USA, seem to have taken a trip to Arizona this spring, where one of them captured this photograph of Calliandra eriophylla (shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Thanks once again!

Fairy duster has previously been featured by Eric La Fountaine: Calliandra eriophylla from June 2009. Today's photograph shows the plants in situ, or in habitat, growing along the Sutherland Trail in Catalina State Park.

Occurring in both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, Calliandra eriophylla primarily blooms in the spring flowering season. Plants may infrequently bloom at other times, though.

As Eric alluded to, the showy parts of the flowers are not the petals, but rather the long filaments of the many stamens (link includes additional photographs).

Feb 17, 2014: Thermopsis rhombifolia

Thermopsis rhombifolia

Taisha is the author of today's entry. She writes:

Thermopsis rhombifolia is also known as the buffalo bean, golden bean, or prairie thermopsis. This photo was taken by Michael McNaughton (aka michaelmcnaughton55@Flickr) who has recently started contributing to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks for sharing with us, Michael!

A member of the pea family or Fabaceae, Thermopsis rhombifolia, is primarily distributed through the Canadian Prairies and the Central Great Plains of the United States. Habitat-wise, the species prefers xeric grasslands with alluvial soils. The slender stem with slightly zigzagged branches holds dark green leaves divided into three leaflets. The inflorescence, a raceme, bears bright yellow flowers which are either scattered or collected in whorls. Characteristic of much of the family, the fruit is a leguminous pod.

According to Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman, Thermopsis rhombifoia was/is used by the Cheyenne as an analgesic or cold remedy, by smoking the dried leaves. The Blackfoot used the yellow petals to colour their arrow shafts yellow. Also, the flowering time of the buffalo bean, suggestive of its common name, indicated to the Flathead and Blackfoot that it was prime buffalo hunting season and (for the Blackfoot people, at least) time to collect buffalo tongues in preparation for the Sun Dance.

Jan 10, 2014: Vicia sativa subsp. nigra

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra

For the fourth entry in the series on mimicry and deception, Taisha writes about a plant found throughout much of the world:

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra or black-pod vetch (one of many common names), was photographerd here by frequent BPotD contributor Robert Klips (aka Orthotrichum@Flickr | via the BPotD Flickr Pool). Thanks Robert!

Today's taxon doesn't use mimicry for the purpose of pollination, but its mimicry does contribute to its reproductive success. This fabaceous taxon uses Vavilovian mimicry (or weed mimicry or crop mimicry), where a weedy taxon takes on one or more of the attributes of a domesticated crop taxon through unintentional artificial (or human-induced) selection. Vavilovian mimicry is named after Nikolai Vavilov, a Russian plant geneticist who first observed and described this phenomenon in the 1920s.

In the case of black-pod vetch, some of the seeds mimic lentil seeds in shape and mass. Black-pod vetch is often found growing in lentil crops, and when the lentils are harvested, it's not uncommon that mature vetch plants are processed by the machinery along with the lentils. Some vetch individuals have a recessive genetic mutation resulting in flattened seeds, strongly resembling those of the lentil. During the process of seed cleaning, the vetch seeds are unintentionally sorted with the lentils and later replanted, increasing the success of that particular genetic lineage (see: Erskine, W. et al. 1994. Mimicry of lentil and the domestication of vetch and grass pea. Economic Botany. 48(3):326-332).

Vavilovian mimicry can also occur vegetatively, as in barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli var. oryzicola). The barnyard grass camouflages itself amongst crops of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa) by strongly resembling the young rice plants. One of the few distinctions between the two is a small ligule that can be found on the rice plants. However, because it requires effort to search for the ligule, it is inefficient to remove the barnyard grass by hand weeding. Those that do stand out for some readily apparent reason are weeded out, so there is an artificial selection pressure to resemble the rice plant at that stage in its life cycle.

This form of mimicry can have positive effects (from a human agricultural perspective). Some species that were once considered weeds are now important crop species. For example, the progenitors of rye (Secale cereale) and oat (Avena sativa and ilk) were once considered weeds growing amongst wheat (Triticum spp.). However, being exposed to similar selection pressures, these ancestors of modern rye and oat crops developed domesticated traits such as large seeds, rigid panicles, and non-shattering qualities, thus making them suitable for growing as cereal crops. These once-weed crops were termed secondary crops by Vavilov (see: Barrett. S. 1983. Crop mimicry in weeds. Economic Botany. 37(3): 255-282).

Dec 24, 2013: Lupinus littoralis and Fragaria chiloensis

Lupinus littoralis and Fragaria chiloensis

A scene from six months ago, this display of seashore lupines and beach strawberries in Rose Spit Ecological Reserve was one of the botanical highlights of my trip to Haida Gwaii. More details about the trip can be read in a July entry on Carex macrocephala.

Fragaria chiloensis is found along the western coast of North America from Alaska to California, skips the tropical Pacific coast, and is found again on the coasts of Chile and Argentina. It can also be found in Hawai'i. Evidence points to a North American origin, with subsequent long-distance dispersal to South America and Hawai'i by birds. Lupinus littoralis has a narrower distribution, found only from British Columbia to California along the coast. One does wonder why it isn't found in Alaska, though, given that Alaska's Prince of Wales Island is only 60-70 km north of this location.

Aug 13, 2013: Lotus maculatus

Lotus maculatus

Taisha is the author of today's entry:

Today's image is of Lotus maculatus. This photo was taken by Daniel Grobbel-Rank@Flickr on July 19, 2013 and submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you, Daniel!

This rare species is endemic to the Canary Islands, where it is known from the northeast coast of Tenerife, near El Sauzal in the Anaga region. It grows at the base of basalt cliffs with conglomerate outcrops between 20 to 30 or more meters above sea level. Lotus maculatus is listed as "critically endangered" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as: 1) it is restricted to a single location of only one square kilometer; 2) there are fewer than 50 individuals this species; and 3) there are ongoing threats to this species due to grazing, hiking, collection, and other human-related activities.

Parrot's beak or lotus vine is a woody-based subshrub that can have stems reaching 2.5 meters in length when growing among rocks. More commonly, plants have stems of ca. 30cm in cultivation. The linear leaves with 5 leaflets are odd-pinnate, or imparipinnate--meaning they are pinnately-compound leaves with a single terminal leaflet. The zygomorphic and terminal flowers are yellow but turn to orange at the tips, with an obvious black stripe upon the standard petal or banner. The fruits of this species are legumes that have 2 valves, with many dark spherical seeds within. (see: Hind, N. 2008. Lotus maculatus. Curtis's Botanical Magazine. 25(2):146-157 doi:10.1111/j.1467-8748.2008.00613.x).

In the above-mentioned article, it is noted that members of the subgenus Rhyncholotus (of which this species belongs) possess a number of floral traits suggesting they are specialist-pollinated by birds (i.e., they are ornithophilous). The traits listed include red-orange-yellow corollas, scentless flowers, and high nectar production. However, there are some curiousities associated with this: in Macaronesia (including the Canary Islands), there are no specialist nectar-feeding birds and these presumptive ornithophilous-flowered taxa are present on the islands but absent in nearby northwest Africa and Europe.

Several hypotheses were made to explain the evolution of ornithophily in the group. The "de novo specialist" hypothesis proposed that now-extinct nectarivorous bird species placed selective pressures on members of this genus (with these species only now being maintained by opportunistic birds). The "relict hypothesis" proposed that the bird-pollinated syndrome evolved on mainland Africa before the colonization of the Macronesian islands. After colonization of the islands, opportunistic birds replaced the specialist birds. Lastly, the "de novo opportunistic hypothesis" proposed that the floral features evolved on the islands due to the selective pressures by opportunistic birds. It is noteworthy to mention that there has been no fossil evidence of specialist pollinator birds found on the Canary Islands. While the origin of ornithophily is still unknown, a recent analysis supports the de novo opportunistic hypothesis (see: Ojeda, I., Santos-Guerra, A. 2011. The intersection of conservation and horticulture: bird-pollinated Lotus species from the Canary Islands (Leguminosae). Biodiversity Conservation. 20: 3501-3516.).

May 8, 2013: Almaleea subumbellata

Almaleea subumbellata

Today, we introduce a new writer to Botany Photo of the Day. Taisha Mitchell has been hired through UBC's Work Learn program to assist with BPotD for the summer. Welcome, Taisha!

Taisha writes:

Thank you to Bill Higham (Bill Higham@Flickr) for today's photo of Almaleea subumbellata, or wiry bushpea, taken in Frodsley, Tasmania, Australia.

Almaleea subumbellata (PDF), formerly known as Pultenaea subumbellata, is a member of the Fabaceae. Like the other four species in the genus Almaleea, it is endemic to Australia. All members of this genus can be found in continental southeastern Australia, with Almaleea subumbellata being the only representative to also occur naturally in Tasmania. This species grows in poorly drained areas of wet heathland at elevations ranging from sea level to 1500m.

Members of Almaleea are distinguished in part by their free stipules and an involucre of bracts at the base of the flower. The glabrous stem of Almaleea subumbellata stands up to 1.2m high and terminates with an inflorescence surrounded by stiffly pointed and hairy bracts. The simple, alternate leaves of this shrub are narrow-elliptic to oblong in shape. The papilionaceous (meaning butterfly-like, and associated with a subfamily of the Fabaceae) flowers are orange to yellow with red markings.

Apr 8, 2013: Onobrychis viciifolia

Onobrychis viciifolia

I'm still on vacation, so my colleague Eric La Fountaine has kindly written today's entry. He writes:

This beautiful image of what I consider an underappreciated plant was contributed to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by Anne Elliott (aka annkelliott@Flickr). Once again, thank you to Anne.

This species is an herbaceous perennial, with erect, hollow stems reaching 60-80 cm in height. Erect conical racemes of pink flowers arise on these long stalks. The natural distribution of this legume is reported by some authorities to be southern Europe and by others as central or western Asia, but a long history of cultivation as a temperate forage crop makes its native origin a bit muddy. Like many plants with a long period of human use, it is known by many common names. In English, it is commonly called sainfoin from the French for "healthy hay". Sometimes it is called holy hay--a confusion of "saint" for "sain".

Healthy hay is a fitting moniker. It is nutritionally comparable to alfalfa and equally, if not more, palatable to livestock. In addition, research has shown that it inhibits nematode parasitism in ruminants due to its high tannin content. A good report on the use of sainfoin as a feed crop is available on Feedipedia: Onobrychis viciifolia, while images of the species growing as a field crop are available via the Alberta Native Plant Council. As a crop, the plant is considered a good environmental choice: it forms a deep tap root that helps soil stabilization, its roots house nitrogen-fixing bacteria that improve the soil, and its melliferous flowers attract bees and birds. A fine, clear honey has been produced in areas where the plant is cultivated. Lastly, it is more tolerant of drought and cold than other forage crops like alfalfa and clover.

Despite its many benefits, it has largely been replaced by alfalfa and clover in the past century. The main drawback is its poor regrowth after cutting and resultant lower production.

Jan 10, 2013: Parkia timoriana

Parkia timoriana

Thank you once again to wlcutler@Flickr, aka Wendy Cutler, for another fine photograph: Parkia timoriana, via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. She photographed this tree while visiting the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden in Honolulu. Much appreciated, Wendy.

Parkia has previously been featured on Botany Photo of the Day, with Parkia biglandulosa. Thirty-four species are recognized according to Mabberley's Plant-Book, with twelve species in the Indopacific region (which includes Parkia timoriana).

Tree bean is bat-pollinated or chiropterophilous. It has some of the classic properties of such species: night-flowering, light-coloured, strongly odored and nectar-rich. Mabberley notes that Old World species of bats visiting their native Parkia species will land head upwards, while in the New World, the bats visiting their associated Parkia species will land head downwards. For more on pollination of this species by bats, see: Bumrungsri et al. 2008. The pollination ecology of two species of Parkia (Mimosaceae) in southern Thailand. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 24(5): 467-475. doi: 10.1017/S0266467408005191 .

Parkia timoriana grows to about 40m tall, forming a large crown making it useful as a specimen shade tree in tropical regions. Like at least a few other species of Parkia (e.g., Parkia speciosa), it is partially edible: seeds, young pods, seedlings and flowers can all be consumed.

Dec 7, 2012: Trifolium macrocephalum

This is the second in an informal series on my footwear and flowers.

I first encountered this species along the Colockum Pass Road in Washington, but it was in the late evening and I didn't take any images. I knew I wanted to see it again, though, and photograph it. The second time was in northeastern Oregon near La Grande, where I encountered a large population, but all the plants were in fruit. Third time is the charm they say, and a stop along Forest Service Road 3500 near Ellensburg, Washington in mid-May of last year finally resulted in a photograph. That's not to say I had a lot of opportunity to photograph these plants; the echoes of gunshots originating from the other side of the hill dissuaded me from sticking around too long. I generally like peace and quiet while photographing.

The specific epithet macrocephalum translates to "large" and "head", so it is fitting that this species is commonly known as either largehead clover or big-head clover. I'm uncertain as to whether it has the largest inflorescence of any of the 250 or so species of Trifolium, but it does deserve the name. The inflorescence of the photographed plant is a bit smaller overall than those I observed in northeast Oregon--the Oregon inflorescences were about the size of a large lime, and more than double the size of any other species of clover than I've encountered to-date.

This population of plants in Washington also had fewer plants in any given area than the population from northeast Oregon. I suspect if I were to catch the northeastern Oregon population in full flower, it would look something like this: Trifolium macrocephalum (featured in the weblog The Wildlife News). Trifolium macrocephalum is native to dry regions of northwestern continental USA, where its preferred habitat is open shallow-soiled rocky areas, or lithosols. Additional photographs are available via the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture: Trifolium macrocephalum.

Dec 4, 2012: Pterocarpus soyauxii

An entry written by work-study student Bryant DeRoy:

Today we have more images (image 1, image 2) from Bart Wursten (aka zimbart@Flickr), this time of Pterocarpus soyauxii. Many thanks for your wonderful submissions via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, Bart!

Believe it or not this is not the scene of some gruesome horror story, although the blood-like sap oozing from the small gash in the trunk could have fooled me. Pterocarpus soyauxii is native to central-western Africa. Its distribution straddles both sides of the equator and reaches as far south as Angola. It is commonly referred to as African padauk (mainly in the lumber industry), but is referred to as the following: kisese (Congo), mbel (Cameroon), mukula or n'gula (Zaire), and tacula (Angola). Pterocarpus soyauxii is a member of the Fabaceae, the extremely large subfamily Faboideae and the tribe Dalbergieae. This tree grows in the range of 27 to 55m tall (88-180ft.) with a diameter of roughly 140-200 cm. Prominent buttresses up to 2m high can also be found on this species. It grows from sea level up to 500m, preferring deep/well-drained soil and roughly 150-170cm (60-66 inches) of annual rainfall.

Pterocarpus soyauxii has an extensive ethnobotanical and economic history. Its wood has been used in a variety of ways, but is perhaps best known for its tonal qualities and subsequent use for musical instruments. The leaves and flowers of this species are edible and contain a high concentration of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) even after cooking, thus serving as important forage for humans and other primates alike. Pterocarpus soyauxii is also the source of a reddish dye, created from grinding the heartwood into a pulp to extract the tannins and other pigmented substances such as flavonoids. For more information on the natural history of this species (including additional images), there is an excellent bio on the Plant Resources of Tropical Africa site: Pterocarpus soyauxii.

Nov 29, 2012: Lupinus bogotensis

Lupinus bogotensis

Thank you once again to Priscilla Burcher of Colombia (aka Priscilla Burcher@Flickr) for today's photograph, taken a couple months ago: Lupinus bogotensis, shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Much appreciated!

Worldwide, Lupinus contains about 250 species, with two main centres of diversity: western North America and the Andes. A few species are also native to the Mediterranean region, tropical African highlands, eastern South America and southeastern USA. Lupinus bogotensis, as its name suggests, is part of the rich Andean grouping (native to Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador). Its common names in Colombia include altramuz and chochitos.

The 70-80 species of Lupinus found in the Andes are all thought to be derived from a single ancestral species that initially colonized the region 1.18-1.76 million years ago. The rapid evolution of new species is associated with new upland island-like habitats available in the region after the uplifting of the Andes, thought to provide new ecological opportunities (and hence radiation of species to exploit these new opportunities). High rates of speciation in the Andes is not restricted to Lupinus, as other genera like Valeriana and Gentianella also display the phenomenon--but none so high as Lupinus. In fact, at the time of publication (and perhaps still), this adaptive radiation of Lupinus is the highest rate of speciation known to occur in vascular plants. See: Hughes, C. and R. Eastwood. 2006. Island radiation on a continental scale: Exceptional rates of plant diversification after uplift of the Andes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 103(27):10334-10339. doi:10.1073/pnas.0601928103 . (link to abstract). Incidentally, this study was supported by the provision of plant material from UBC Botanical Garden. We grow few, if any, Andean Lupinus species, but the Garden did provide some western North American Lupinus and other fabaceous species to use as outgroups (which help calibrate the statistical analyses to determine relationships between species).

Lupinus bogotensis has been assessed by the IUCN Red List as "least concern", as it is widespread and abundant in its range. It has been observed in "grasslands, Páramo, sub-alpine forest and secondary vegetation along exposed roadsides", so unlike many other Andean Lupinus species, it seems to have evolved to be a generalist and occupy many ecological niches.

Aug 18, 2012: Phaseolus vulgaris 'Yin Yang'

Phaseolus vulgaris 'Yin Yang'

A thank you to a local acquaintance, Meighan@Flickr, for this playful image (original | via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Much appreciated!

These dwarf French beans are known commonly as black calypso beans, yin yang beans or, as Meighan illustrates, orca beans. Despite the group broadly being called French beans, the genetic origins of this kind of bean are in Central and South America. The English moniker of French bean is due to an association of where they first became popular in Europe.

I've tried to track down the origin of this specific cultivar, as there is conflicting information online (with many references to it being a heritage cultivar). The source I most lean toward trusting is the 2004 book Beans by Aliza Green (there's a limerick there, somewhere), where she writes: "This boutique bean...was developed by growers in Europe, where it's become quite popular". The Royal Horticultural Society's Horticultural Database (linked above) notes an illustration of the cultivar in The Garden from 2002; I've looked at that issue and 'Yin Yang' dwarf French bean appears under the headline "Exciting New Cultivars". This seems to conflict with what I would consider a heritage cultivar, though even if it strictly isn't, it is still an intriguing and fun bean.

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 23, 2012: Lotus pinnatus

Today's entry is written by Bryant. The first photograph is from Charles Thirkill, a resident of Nanaimo who has been prominent in preserving this rare species at this location in British Columbia, and the second image is from Bryant. He writes:

Last Thursday, I was fortunate enough to tag along with Daniel Mosquin and Tony Maniezzo, the curator of the North American Gardens (including the Garry Oak Meadow and Woodland Garden, on their scouting trip to various Garry oak ecosystem sites on Vancouver Island. The main purpose of the trip was to examine different Garry oak landscapes and compare the plants and plant assemblages that are growing in the UBC Botanical Garden with their counterparts in the wild. A secondary purpose was to locate and observe rare plant species, in the hope that the Garden will one day participate in conservation programs for these species.

This photo shows Lotus pinnatus (bog birds-foot trefoil), a member of the Fabaceae, at one of its few locations on Vancouver Island. It is a short-lived perennial that grows from a thick taproot, and can be observed in flower from May to June. It has alternate compound leaves, each with 2-4 pairs of oppositely-arranged leaflets and a terminal leaflet. It is found in moist depressions in shallow soil on exposed coastal lowlands. In Canada, it grows in Garry Oak habitat on southeast Vancouver Island and Gabriola Island.

Elsewhere, Lotus pinnatus is native to California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The species is not considered threatened globally; however, it is considered extremely rare in Canada (the northern extent of its distribution). In Canada, it is limited to 5 recorded sites, with 83% of its Canadian population residing on the Harewood Plains in Nanaimo, British Columbia. This highly limited Canadian distribution has earned this species an N1 (nationally endangered) ranking by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Provincially, it is ranked as an S1 (red-listed/critically imperiled) status in B.C., the highest threatened level that can be applied to a species.

Since Lotus pinnatus usually grows in association with water seepage sites, any activity that could cause drainage through soil compaction, channeling or other methods could cause local extirpations of this species. The biggest threats to the British Columbia populations of this species come from logging, unauthorized 4x4, ATV and dirtbike use, development, and encroachment of invasive species. The site where the pictured specimen was found was not marked in any way and showed recent tracks and disturbance from unauthorized recreational vehicles.

Only 7% of the plants in Canada reside under some official protection, those that are in the Woodley Range Ecological Reserve. The percentage of protected habitat for Lotus pinnatus is small because the majority of the Canadian populations exist on private land. Landowners have made efforts to keep off-road recreationists out of the fragile habitat by placing gates, cement barriers and ditches at potential entrance sites, but to little avail. On the bright side, there are steps being taken to help Lotus pinnatus recover. In 2006, the "Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Vernal Pools and Other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada" was developed for Lotus pinnatus, and five other local species, under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). This recovery strategy is a major step in the protection of the mentioned species; the next step requires a proposed action plan, which is currently in the process of development, to delineate site-specific management goals and objectives.

In other news, Lotus pinnatus was named the floral emblem of Nanaimo in 2010 with the hopes to raise public awareness about its conservation status. For information on the local recovery efforts for this species contact the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team.

Mar 15, 2012: Adesmia boronioides

Adesmia boronioides

Thank you to Krystyna Szulecka (her website: clikc photography) for once again sharing one of her South American photographs (submitted via this thread on the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum). Do visit her website!

As noted in a previous BPotD written by Douglas Justice on Adesmia (the much shorter in stature Adesmia longipes), this genus consists of "about 230 herbaceous and shrubby species native to the montane and alpine regions of South America". Commonly known as paramela (a name given to at least several members of the genus), Adesmia boronioides is one of the shrubby species, typically reaching 0.4m to 2m in height (1.3ft to 6ft). Adesmia boronioides inhabits a number of plant community types in Argentina and Chile, including high forests, steppes, and montane grasslands, as well as some of the windswept rocky areas often associated with Patagonia (it is reported from elevations at sea level to 1500m (4900ft).

For a detailed botanical description of the species, visit the herbario digital INTA Santa Cruz page for Adesmia boronioides. The University of Cambridge's site on "Darwin's Plants from the Beagle Voyage" contains scans of specimens of Adesmia boronioides collected by Darwin. Or, for some additional photographs, see both a close-up image of the plants and flowers via stitchingbushwalker@Flickr and an image of flowers with a pollinator, thanks to el buitre@Flickr. Lastly, a report from a botanical expedition to Central Patagonia is interesting reading.

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