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Results tagged “plantaginaceae”

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").

Jun 19, 2012: Penstemon azureus

Penstemon azureus

All species of Penstemon are strictly endemic to North America, making it the largest group of flowering plants restricted to the continent. Penstemon azureus, like the majority of Penstemon species, is native to western North America; it is found only in southwestern Oregon and northern California.

Azure penstemon has been the subject of some recent research to determine its evolutionary origins. As plants of Penstemon azureus contain six times the base number of chromosomes (6x), it has been speculated that the species is the result of the hybridization of two closely related species of Penstemon, one containing four times the base number of chromosomes (4x) and one containing the "typical" two (2x) -- in other words, it is a polyploid, and more specifically an allopolyploid (even more exact, an allohexaploid). Testing the hypothesis of allopolyploidy in the origin of Penstemon azureus (Plantaginaceae) is a talk being presented at Botany 2012. The researcher, Travis Lawrence, makes note in his presentation's abstract that Penstemon azureus is one of only four species in Penstemon section Saccanthera with either 4x, 6x, or 8x the base number of chromosomes; the other twenty species have 2x. Through examination of nuclear DNA in particular, Lawrence was able to narrow the likely progenitors of Penstemon azureus to three species: Penstemon heterophyllus (some individuals have 2x, others have 4x), Penstemon laetus (2x), and Penstemon parvulus (4x). Additional research is necessary to better determine the likely progenitors.

This photograph was taken at the Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside near O'Brien, Oregon. Two potential progenitors also are known to occur here: Penstemon laetus and Penstemon parvulus. Penstemon identification can be difficult, particularly when closely-related species are sympatric (or overlapping in distribution). Fortunately, I was able to determine this species with the key in the recently-released second edition of The Jepson Manual. Penstemon laetus was discarded as a possibility as it has a glandular inflorescence; I can see no glands when I look at the full-size rendering of the image (all parts of the inflorescence are glabrous (smooth or hairless)). One of the key differences between Penstemon parvulus and Penstemon azureus is length of corolla (14-20mm vs. 20-35mm), and I am quite confident these fall within the larger range.

A close-up photograph of a flower (from a plant in the same area) was taken by Karen Phillips: Penstemon azureus. Additional photographs are available from CalPhotos: Penstemon azureus.

Interested in penstemons? You might like to consider the American Penstemon Society; they've helped fund a small research project on penstemon hybridization and evaluation for home garden use here at UBC Botanical Garden, for which we're grateful.

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.

Nov 1, 2010: Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora

I thought it might be suitable to lead with a flower and some colour this week, to offset the drab, grey weather. This photograph is from an early May trip to Vancouver Island with the Native Plant Society of British Columbia.

Unfortunately, my photograph doesn't show the character that helps to differentiate the two species of Collinsia native to British Columbia, Collinsia parviflora and Collinsia grandiflora, so I've made an educated guess. The corolla tube of Collinsia grandiflora has a near 90 degree bend from the calyx (see the base of the flowers in this photograph), while in Collinsia parviflora, the angle is nearer 45 degrees (as displayed in this photograph). Given that the angle of the corolla tube is hidden in my photograph with a face-on view of the flower, I suspect this individual has the 45 degrees angle -- hence the educated guess.

Maiden blue-eyed mary or small-flowered blue-eyed mary has a range spanning much of western North America and parts of northeastern North America. In areas I've seen it (BC, Washington, Oregon, California), I've associated it with spring-time moist soils, growing in sunny to shady conditions. This small (3-40cm (1-16in.) annual species can be easily overlooked, as the flowers (though they appear large in the photograph) are typically 0.5-1cm long -- hence the specific epithet parviflora (small-flowered). However, the species is quite variable, and finding flowers nearly 2cm (under 1in.) long isn't impossible when plants are larger and growing in ideal conditions.

As noted by the people behind swcoloradowildflowers.com, the genus Collinsia is named after Zaccheus Collins (1764-1831), a Philadelphia botanist and merchant.

Calphotos has additional photographs of Collinsia parviflora.

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