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Results tagged “orobanchaceae”

Aug 12, 2014: Castilleja lemmonii

Castilleja lemmonii

I've returned from two weeks of work in the field and two weeks of vacation, but here is another entry from Taisha today while I continue to catch up on correspondence. Taisha writes:

Thanks to Eric Hunt.@Flickr for this photograph of Castilleja lemmonii, or Lemmon's Indian paintbrush. It was taken in July of 2009 in an alpine meadow between California's Greenstone Lake and Saddlebag Lake, located in the Inyo National Forest of Mono County. Thanks, Eric!

Castilleja lemmonii is perennial species native to California. It is found in moist meadows in the southern Cascades and the Sierra Nevada at elevations of 1550-3700 m. Grey-green lanceolate leaves are held on an unbranched stem that can reach up to 20 cm in height. The inflorescence consists of a collection of pink to purple-red bracts that surround green tubular flowers.

Members of Castilleja are placed in the Orobanchaceae, but many older texts had them classified in the Scrophulariaceae. They are hemiparasitic, i.e., photosynthetic, but also receiving some nutrition from host plants. Castilleja species are noted to parasitize a wide range of plant species, and can also parasitize multiple hosts simultaneously. More specifically, Castilleja species are facultative root hemiparasites. Their roots grow until they touch the roots from another plant, whereupon they penetrate the roots with haustoria. The Castilleja receive water, fixed carbon compounds, nitrogen, other nutrients, and even secondary metabolites from the host.

Hemiparasites influence plant community dynamics and other trophic levels by a distinct suite of ecological traits. Most people may initially suspect that parasitic plants have mainly negative affects within a community, particularly with respect to their hosts. This is true to some degree where the parasitic plant competes with both host and non-host plants for light, water, nutrients, pollinators, and seed dispersers. However, according to some ecologists, parasites may actually increase the diversity within a community depending on whether or not the preferred host is the competitive, dominant species. If dominant, then its suppression of the dominant species may allow for other species' populations to increase. Hemiparasites are also sometimes considered mutualists. The litter of hemisparasites is considered to be nutrient rich, and as this high-quality litter rapidly decomposes it provides nutrients for co-occurring plants. It also supports a more diverse and active soil biota.

To read more, you may wish to look over a paper by Phoenix and Press from the University of Sheffield where they discuss several aspects of the influence of Orobanchaceae on community dynamics (see: Phoenix, G., Press, M. (2005). Linking physiological traits to impacts on community structure and function: the role of root hemiparasites Orobanchaceae (ex-Scrophulariaceae). Journal of Ecology. 93(1): 67-78). You can also read a summary of their paper written by a graduate student from the University of Washington last year.

Oct 15, 2013: Cistanche tubulosa

Cistanche tubulosa

Taisha is the author for this entry.

Today's photo is of Cistanche tubulosa. It was taken by Ton Rulkens (aka tonrulkens@Flickr) in its natural habitat on a beach near Chocas- Mar (Mossuril District) in northern Mozambique. Thank you Ton for the picture!

Cistanche tubulosa (Orobanchaceae) is an obligate parasite, meaning it relies on a host plant to complete its life cycle. For Cistanche tubulosa, the host plant is often a species that grows in coarse, sandy soils under dry, arid conditions. The germinated seedlings of Cistanche tubulosa lack the tissues of typical eudicot seedlings, such as the radicle (embyronic root), hypocotyl (embryonic stem) and cotyledons (embryonic leaves). Instead, the germinating embryo develops a tube-like organ that comes into contact with the root of the host plant, penetrates it, and forms the primary haustorium. Once it reaches the central core of root xylem of the host plant, the haustorium replaces the metaxylem cells and ensures physical support and nutritional supply for the parasitic Cistanche tubulosa plant. Collectively, the haustorial cells can look pith-like (despite roots being devoid of a pith) due their likeness to parenchyma cells. The tube-like organ that remains exterior to the root develops into a tubercle, which later differentiates into the stem of the parasite. This stem develops underground in the late summer or autumn. It will remain dormant until spring or summer, then eventually project above ground to reveal the spiked inflorescence. After seed set and release, the inflorescence first withers (usually within 2-3 weeks), followed by the underground stem. It is thought that the remaining stem below the withered spike may redevelop the following spring (see: Ilahi, I., et al. 2010. Cistanche tubulosa (Schenk) R. Wight an important medicinal plant occurring in sand dunes of Karak, N.W.F.P., Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Botany. 42(1):537-547).

This fleshy herbaceous species is distributed in northern Africa, Arabia, and western Asia to Pakistan, India and central Asia. It grows anywhere from 15-150cm tall, but typically between 30-60cm. As the stem and leaves both lack chlorophyll, it can be also classified as a holoparasite (meaning it relies entirely on the host plant for photosynthates). The alternate leaves, in the form of scales, are arranged spirally around the stem. These scales have no well-developed stomata, instead relying on hydathodes for gas and water exchange. The flowers are bluish or crimson-coloured when young, but turn white, yellow or purplish-yellow at maturity.

Feb 27, 2013: Euphrasia cuneata

Euphrasia cuneata

The author and photographer for today's entry is Jackie Chambers, who (if you're a long-time BPotD reader) you may remember contributing a fair number of photographs several years ago. After spending some time abroad, she's back in the Vancouver area and has a new set of photographs and stories that she'll be sharing on occasion. Jackie writes:

Europeans arriving in New Zealand used the common name eyebright to refer to this plant, as they would have seen similarities between this species and its European relative Euphrasia officinalis (botanical sketch).

Euphrasia officinalis has a long history of use by humans for the treatment of conjunctivitis and other eye complaints, dating back to at least the time of the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper. However, a 2010 assessment by the European Medicines Agency reviewed the documented medical efficacy of Euphrasia officinalis (PDF), and found there to be insufficient data to recommend therapeutic use.

In New Zealand, eyebright or tutumako, was not used for the eyes but traditionally played a role in spiritual cleansing (via the Māori Plant Use Database).

The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network has more photographs of Euphrasia cuneata.

If you are a local reader and interested in traditional knowledge and the links between people and plants, distinguished ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner will be giving the Wharton Memorial Lecture at UBC on March 7th: "Reflections on the Journey from Biodiversity and Culture to Biocultural Diversity".

Aug 24, 2012: Castilleja schizotricha

Today's images are from one of my favourite haunts (the Siskiyous), and contributed by foliosus@Flickr aka Brent Miller of Portland, Oregon: original image 1 | original image 2 | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you.

Splithair Indian paintbrush is endemic to the Klamath Mountains of southwest Oregon and northwest California. It is a high-elevation species (1500m-2300m (4900ft.-7550ft.), preferring soils of decomposed granite or marble. The species was first described in 1912 by Jesse Greenman.

CalPhotos has additional photographs of Castilleja schizotricha.

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").

Feb 5, 2012: Triphysaria eriantha

Triphysaria eriantha

Another member of the broomrape family today, Triphysaria eriantha is known commonly as Johnnytuck or butter and eggs. These annual plants can be found throughout most of California and parts of southwest Oregon. Calphotos has additional images, including photographs of the plants in habitat: Triphysaria eriantha.

Feb 4, 2012: Castilleja coccinea

It is likely this is the first member of the Orobanchaceae that I ever knowingly encountered--a small patch of scarlet Indian paintbrush grew on the edge of some gravel pits about 10km from my childhood home. This species is perennial, so that patch is possibly still there if someone hasn't torn up the rocky soil with an ATV or the like. I do remember being taken out by my parents specifically to see that patch on one or two occasions.

Castilleja has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 160-200 species, and almost all of these are in western North America. Castilleja coccinea is one of the exceptions, as it is broadly distributed across eastern North America. These plants, with their scarlet-red bracts, were photographed in early May.

Feb 3, 2012: Orobanche corymbosa

Orobanche corymbosa

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing some photographs from Thursday evening's presentation on Orobanchaceae (the broomrape family). I've been hearing a few comments that even if a long write-up isn't possible, simply sharing an image is okay, so let's try that.

Orobanche corymbosa or flat-top broomrape, is native to western North America (including British Columbia), where it is frequently a parasite on members of the Asteraceae or sunflower family. In particular, these achlorophyllous plants often grow in association with big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata).

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.

Dec 12, 2011: Whipsaw Creek Road

Whipsaw Creek Road

Just the photograph today -- exams for Katherine combined with a number of deadlines and meetings for me equals few entries, unfortunately.

Aug 22, 2011: Wells Gray Provincial Park

The hike through the wildflower meadows of Trophy Mountain in Wells Gray Provincial Park has been called A Hike to Remember. That's indeed the case, as it is one of the best mass displays of wildflowers in British Columbia. In typical years, it peaks in early August, but thanks to the heavy snows and cool spring locally, it was delayed a couple weeks. Earlier in the year, about a month preceding this swath of colours, the hillsides are covered in yellow from the Erythronium grandiflorum (which I've not seen).

By the way, for those who don't often read comments from previous entries, you may have missed that you can click on the photographs on BPotD, and then sometimes enlarge them again (the square grey box in the upper right corner of the image).

Jun 18, 2011: Rehmannia glutinosa

Rehmannia glutinosa

An entry written by Alexis today:

Pictured in this photo taken by Daniel is the flower of Rehmannia glutinosa, from a plant growing in the UBC Botanical Garden. This genus is commonly referred to as Chinese foxglove.

Rehmannia glutinosa is a perennial herb native to China. It grows by trails and on mountain slopes, and can also be seen springing up through cracks in the pavement and walls in the Forbidden City, as noted by Lancaster in Plantsman's Paradise: Travels in China (2008). In the UBC Botanical Garden, a few small patches of the herb can be found in an unshaded area near the garden entrance. Every inch of the plant appears to be densely covered in hairs, which feel just as soft and fuzzy as they look. The flowers are neither fragrant nor eye-catching in colour but I found their shape uniquely endearing, as they resemble small hairy trumpets suitable perhaps for some tiny orchestra.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Rehmannia glutinosa is called Di Huang and has a multitude of purposes. When bruised, the leaves are a remedy for eczema and psoriasis. Fever, coughs and bleeding are just a few of the symptoms treated with the roots of the plant; they are also used in treating cancer and anemia. Rehmannia glutinosa is also one of the ingredients in the most popular women's tonic in China, "Four Things Soup", the other ingredients of which are Angelica sinensis, Paeonia lactiflora and Ligusticum wallichii. Apparently the roots are also edible, though I am wary of anything that supposedly requires being boiled nine times before ingesting.

May 11, 2011: Cordylanthus palmatus

Today's photographs were shared via the UBC Botanical Garden forums by member mollymCA: Alkali Sink Vernal Pools, Livermore, CA. Thank you very much! Molly has also written a great account about this area, so I'll share her writings here. Molly writes:

The Springtown Vernal Pools should be especially spectacular this year of late rains. This area, enclosed by development, has so far been saved by the presence of the endangered (FE/SE: Federal and State) Cordylanthus palmatus, palmate-bracted bird's beak. It is in the Scrophulariaceae (Daniel -- now in Orobanchaceae) and thus a relative of Indian paintbrush, and like many in the family a hemiparasite on roots of other plants. It may be able to survive without a root association, but is said to develop more color in the bracts--the 3-pronged structures that clutch the stem--according to the extent of such a relationship (if true, this plant hadn't yet found a friend!).

The Cordylanthus is a salt-excreter and you can see the crystals on the rather succulent leaves and bracts. The flowers (like those of Indian paintbrush) are insignificant even when fully out -- on May 9, 2008 they were not quite fully extended from the bracts.

The white areas in the landscape photograph are dried vernal pools and stream areas, crusted with the salt that accumulates over years of leaching from the soil into the landlocked depressions (or nearly so: there is a rather feeble flow out from some of the streams). The bird's beak would be found on the edges of the salt areas.

The green plant growing with the Cordylanthus palmatus is Salicornia, also called pickleweed, and the dry stuff lying on the ground is dormant Distichlis spicata, both typical of salty or salty-alkaline swampy areas.

Botany resource link (added by Daniel): Botany Photo of the Day was featured in the latest publication of the Berry-Go-Round blog carnival over at Foothills Fancies: check out Issue No. 39 of Berry-Go-Round to see a great selection of recent plant- and botany-based writing around the web.

Dec 10, 2010: Castilleja applegatei var. pinetorum

Castilleja applegatei var. pinetorum

It's likely I've expressed in the past my love/hate relationship with this genus. Love to be in their presence, love to photograph Castilleja, but hate to identify them. I'm hoping I have the identification correct in this case. I wrongly assumed all of the paintbrushes that looked like this at the high elevations of Steens were the same taxon, but the key in Flora of Steens Mountain suggests otherwise.

Wavy-leaved paintbrush is found in western North America. The variety pinetorum is native to Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and California, where it grows in dry places. Depending on the reference, at least a few other varieties are sometimes recognized in the Great Basin area. On Steens Mountain, Castilleja applegatei var. pinetorum is commonly found growing in association with sagebrush at higher elevations (above 2000m (6561 ft)). Having visited Steens Mtn three times in the past 4 years, 2007 seemed to have been a banner year for the local population with thousands of individual plants dotting the landscape. This photograph is from 2009, though, when plants were more often found in small pockets of the landscape.

Moerman's Native American Ethnobotany Database lists this taxon as being used as a beverage by the Miwok peoples, who occasionally sipped the flower for its nectar, something I suppose I will have to try on my next occasion to visit the area.

Like other members of its genus, Castilleja applegatei var. pinetorum is a hemiparasite (via haustoria). Though it does not to parasitize to survive (the species is chlorophyllous, after all), parasitizing other species can produce more robust, longer-living plants. In the case of Steens Mountain, I suspect the host plant is typically Artemisia tridentata, or big sagebrush.


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