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Jul 7, 2014: Sarcosphaera coronaria

Sarcosphaera coronaria

Back in May, several photographs of fungi from Vancouver Island were posted for identification and appreciation to the UBC Botanical Garden Forums by forum member mikephillips. Mike gave permission to use this one that he posted for appreciation. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

Sarcosphaera coronaria (synonyms: Sarcosphaera crassa, Sarcosphaera exima) is commonly known as crown fungus or the violet-crowned cup. According to Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora, this solitary fungus is common under pines and other conifers in the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, and the Rocky Mountains. The hollow, round, lobed ball of the fruiting body often pops up in the spring, though summer and autumn emergences also occur. The walls of the fruiting body split and fold back at maturity to form several pointed segments forming a crown-like cup. The initially smooth, but later scaly, interior is revealed when this occurs. What particularly stands out is that the interior of the cup is greyish at first, but darkens with age to pink or lilac, and yet later to a deeper purple-brown. Older individuals may be confused with Scleroderma polyrhizum, but the two species can be differentiated by the presence of a powdery spore mass in the cup of Scleroderma polyrhizum or the pink/purple colour interior of Sarcosphaera coronaria.

Crown fungus is an ascomycete or sac fungus. Its nonmotile spores are formed within structures called asci (ascospores). When stained with IKI or Melzer's reagent, the amyloid tips of the asci will turn blue because of the starch content. The dispersed spores develop into underground ectomycorrhizae. These contain yellowish or clear & glossy hyaline hyphae in a gelatinous matrix, and are associated with coniferous symbionts. In the underground stage, this fungus species is apt to be mistaken for a truffle at first glance, but can be distinguished easily as they have a hollow interior. Because of their similarity to truffles, this fungus (and others from the genus) were once even given its own truffle genus, Caulocarpa. However, they are now placed within the Pezizaceae because of the asci with amyloid tips.

In Mushrooms Demystified, it is noted that Sarcosphaera coronaria is not recommended for consumption. While rated highly by some to eat, the fungal bodies are difficult to clean and a few people are adversely affected by it. The texture has been described to be like a rubber eraser that has been softened with time. If that sounds appetizing to you, and you would like to try it, it's recommended to cook it thoroughly beforehand. Wikipedia also notes that it is an arsenic accumulator.

Jul 16, 2013: Cryptantha flava

Cryptantha flava

Taisha writes today's entry:

Today's photo of Cryptantha flava, or the yellow cryptanth, was requested from hauskurz@UBC Botanical Garden forums, who posted it in this plant identification thread: Cryptantha flava. Thanks hauskurz!

The origin of the names for Cryptantha flava are the Greek words kryptos, meaning "to hide" and anthos meaning "flower", as well as flava meaning "yellow". Yellow cryptanth is a semi-arid perennial found growing in sandy soils of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. This aboveground herbaceous species grows from a taproot and woody underground stem, called a caudex, that bears densely packed rosettes of oblanceolate leaves. The hairy leaves appear in the spring and senesce after they bear a single inflorescence of 45-55 yellow 5-petaled flowers. The flowers produce one, sometimes two, nutlets (two more may be fertilized but are aborted). These remain enclosed in the calyx until later serving as the dispersal unit (see: Casper, B. B. 1996. Demographic consequences of drought in the herbaceous perennial Cryptantha flava: Effects of density, associations with shrubs, and plant size. Oecologia. 106:144-152.).

In today's photograph, there are flowers of both white and yellow on the same plant. Corolla colour is one way in which flowers attract animal pollinators. Some species have corollas which undergo colour changes as they age in order to attract or deter pollinators. By changing corolla colour, the plant is able to direct pollinators to flowers that have not yet been pollinated, increasing outcrossing. In some species, this colour change is onset by pollination.

In a study by Casper and La Pine, colour change from white to yellow in another member of Cryptantha, Cryptantha humilis var. nana, was investigated. It was theorized that the changes in colour and other floral characteristics occur in order to deter pollinators from visiting non-reproductive flowers. It was found that Cryptantha humilis var. nana is self-incompatible, and therefore visits from pollinators to viable flowers are essential to maximize seed production and reproductive potential. They found that this phenomenon was a time-dependent event, regardless of whether the flower is pollinated. Observations revealed that approximately three days after anthesis (when the flower is fully open and functional), the flower turns white and remains so for about a day before wilting. It was discovered that other changes occur simultaneously with colour change such as decrease in nectar and pollen production, and differences in odour and UV patterns. It was also observed that pollinators visited plants of Cryptantha humilis var. nana that had yellow corollas more often than those with white, presumably because it is the flowers with yellow corollas that produce nectar. One might question the advantage of keeping corollas on the plant after pollination, and it is suggested that it may contribute to the attractiveness of the plant to pollinators from long distances. However, it was found that the white flowers did not increase the number of insect visitors, and it is actually the number of yellow flowers that pollinators made their foraging decisions on, rather than the total number of flowers. Overall, it is mentioned that more experimental approaches are necessary to understand the colour change phenomenon (see: Casper, B. B., La Pine, T. R. 1984. Changes in corolla color and other floral characteristics in Cryptantha humilis (Boraginaceae): Cues to discourage pollinators?. Evolution. 38(1): 128-141.).

Aug 9, 2012: Datisca cannabina

A thank you to local plant enthusiast Wendy Cutler (wcutler@UBC Botanical Garden Forums) for sharing her photographs of this plant from UBC Botanical Garden by my request (read more in this thread). As I've written in the past, I'm always pleased to be able to share something from a plant family that has yet to be featured.

The Datiscaceae, or datisca family, is only represented by two species. The Baja Californian/Californian/Nevadan Datisca glomerata and the Asian (& barely European) Datisca cannabina, found in "Crete, Turkey, Transcaucasia, Lebanon, N. Iran. Afghanistan, W. Pakistan and Nepal". This biogeographical pattern (western North America, Mediterranean aka the Madrean-Tethyan disjunctions) exists in other taxa as well, a pattern that is not yet fully understood (see: Smith, SA and MJ Donoghue. 2010. Combining Historical Biogeography with Niche Modeling in the Caprifolium Clade of Lonicera (Caprifoliaceae, Dipsacales). Systematic Biology. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syq011 ).

UBC BG's Curator of Collections Douglas Justice's reply to Wendy shared a few additional factoids about Datisca cannabina of interest: "A rarely cultivated herbaceous perennial...Plants are dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants) and fix nitrogen through a mutualistic relationship with a root-nodulating actinobacteria in the genus Frankia. Frankia species are also known to associate with Alnus (alder) and Elaeagnus (oleaster) and its relatives".

Lastly, a small request to email subscribers. I know it is easier to send along your thanks or comments as a reply to the notification email, but that does have a couple disadvantages: 1) I only get to see the positive words, and if the compliments are about a submitted photograph, the photographer misses out on those; and 2) those in charge of the purse strings potentially miss out on seeing the feedback. Slow as the comment process is, I think it has its advantages.

Apr 4, 2012: Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae

Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae

Katherine again writes today's entry:

Today, we have a beautiful image of Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae thanks to Anna Kadlec via the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum.

Hibiscus waimeae has two subspecies (sometimes designated varieties): Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae and Hibiscus waimeae subsp. waimeae. Today's featured subspecies is generally smaller overall (including smaller flowers) when compared to the subspecies waimeae, though it has larger leaves. Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae is endemic to Hawaii, and known by the Hawaiian names: Aloalo, Koki'o kea, and Koki'o ke'oke'o, In English, the taxon is commonly known as Kauai white hibiscus, minature Hawaiian white hibiscus, small Kauai white hibiscus, and white Kauai rosemallow. Native Plants Hawaii (see previous link) notes that the genus name stems from "hibiscos, Greek for 'mallow', and the epithet waimeae refers to the Waimea Canyon, Kaua'i where this species is found." That reference also states that Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae blooms year round, although sporadically (often ceasing during winter or early spring), and is unusual among hibiscus in that it is one of only two species (both native to Hawaii) to have fragrant flowers.

According to the U.S. National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) page for Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae, these single flowers last only one day and are "white when open in [the] morning and fade to pink in the afternoon" with a staminal column that is pink to crimson. Easily grown in cultivation (it was previously used as decoration near huts), the taxon is considered endangered. It occurs only in Kaua'i's northwestern valleys of Hanakapi'ai, Limahuli, and Kalihi Wai at elevations of 240 - 1,200m (800 - 3,900ft) (see previous link). Its rarity is in part due to the ease with which Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae hybridizes, and, according to the IUCN Red List, partly due to habitat being "frequently damaged by feral pigs and invaded by introduced plants". The IUCN Red List also notes that the population on Kalihi Wai is seemingly extirpated.

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.

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 11, 2012: Iochroma cyaneum

Today's entry was assembled by Katherine:

Many thanks to JPierre@UBC Botanical Garden Forums for his pictures of Iochroma cyaneum. The first photograph is via the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum, while the second was received via email.

Iochroma cyaneum, or violet churcu, is native to Ecuador and cultivated elsewhere. Gardeners in similar climates use them as evergreen ornamentals, while in harsher climates people grow plants outdoors in summer and use greenhouses or other structures to overwinter. According to Trade Winds Fruit, Iochroma cyaneum can flower year round, but will typically have more blossoms in the spring and fall. The Subtropical Horticultural Research Station has identified several cultivars of Iochroma cyaneum, with variation in flower colour distinguishing the cultivated varieties. Hummingbirds are known to be major pollinators of Iochroma.

In addition to violet churcu, Iochroma cyaneum is also known commonly as violet churur, blue cestrum and, in Swedish, pipviolbuske.

A relative of Brugmansia, or angel's trumpet, it shares the angel's trumpet's tendencies for toxicity (and, the same should be noted for many species within the Solanaceae or tomato family). All parts of Iochroma cyaneum are considered toxic, to the point where simply handling the plants may cause a reaction. Trade Winds Fruit notes that Iochroma cyaneum was traditionally used for medicinal purposes, as it is known to contain alkaloids and hallucinogens.

Jan 6, 2012: Hoya curtisii

Katherine is responsible for today's entry:

A big thank you to sandy130@UBC Botanical Garden Forums for today's image of Hoya curtisii. The accompanying text is from the original 1908 publication of the species in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Pt. 2, Nat. Hist. 74(2): 563. This text was contributed to the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden.

Hoya curtisii is native to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. Among hoyas, this species has some of the smallest leaves. Hoya curtisii is a relatively slow growing hoya with yellowish-green flowers with red centers. Descriptions of its fragrance range from citrus-like to smelling initially of fresh grass then, with age, more melon-like. Often used as an ornamental plant, particularly in baskets as it does not "climb or twine", plants of Hoya curtisii are tolerable to some drought, but not complete dryness.

The genus Hoya was named in honour of Thomas Hoy and comprises 200-300 species, which are commonly referred to as waxplants, waxvines, waxflowers, or hoyas. Studies at the University of Georgia found Hoya to be very capable of removing some indoor pollutants. Hoyas also exhibit Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) whereby plants reduce evapotranspiration by closing stomata in their leaves during the day, and collecting CO2 at night.

The book Medicinal Plants of Asia and the Pacific by Wiart (2006) provides insight to the traditional medicinal uses of some hoyas, including Hoya coriacea (used as treatment for asthma), Hoya coronaria (to induce vomiting, traditional use in Indonesia), and Hoya diversifolia (to ease the pain of rheumatism, used in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia). Methanolic extracts of Hoya diversifolia have also been shown to exhibit antinematodal activity.

Botany and mathematics resource link (added by Daniel): More on Fibonacci series today--a colleague had a question on branching patterns in saguaro cacti and conifers, which led him to find this neat project write-up he shared with me: The Secret of the Fibonacci Sequence in Trees, a Young Naturalist Award winner from the American Museum of Natural History.

Nov 22, 2011: Strophanthus speciosus

Strophanthus speciosus

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

A big thank you to davallia@UBC Botanical Garden Forums for sharing this picture of Strophanthus speciosus via the UBC Botanical Garden Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum.

Strophanthus speciosus is native to South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Common names for this species include forest poison rope and corkscrew flower.

Though uncommon in its native range, Strophanthus speciosus is not presently under threat according to Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Medicinal Plants (PROTA). Strophanthus speciosus is a shrub growing to 4m, or a liana sometimes reaching approximately 16m. This species flowers near the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy season (September - October) in the wild, while "mature fruits occur throughout the year with a peak in the dry season", according to the above resource. Although the efficacy is unconfirmed by research, it is traditionally used to treat snakebites (in humans and cattle). Alluding to its common name, related species such as Strophanthus gerrardii and Strophanthus luteolus (and possibly this species, as well) are used to generate a poison for spears and arrows (as well as more nefarious purposes).

Strophanthus is derived from the Greek stroph- meaning "a cord or twisted band; turn, twist" and -anthos, or "flower". The genus is comprised of approximately 38 known species, of which 30 occur in continental Africa, 1 in Madagascar, and 7 in Asia.

Jun 10, 2011: Xanthosia rotundifolia

Alexis authors today's entry:

davallia@UBC Botanical Garden forums shares these photos from the Maranoa Gardens of Melbourne, Australia. Thanks, davallia!

Xanthosia rotundifolia is a member of the Apiaceae or carrot family. Historically, it was often categorized in the Mackinlayaceae, but all members of that family have now moved to the Apiaceae. Xanthosia includes about 20 species in total, all of which are endemic to temperate Australia. Xanthosia rotundifolia is native to southwest Australia, naturally occurring in at least three biogeographic regions: Warren, Esperance Plains, and Jarrah Forest. These regions have a Mediterranean climate defined by wet winters and dry summers and mean monthly temperatures that can reach the high 20s (degrees Celsius) but never fall below freezing.

Xanthosia rotundifolia is an erect or sprawling perennial herb growing 60cm high and spreading about 1m wide. (Blackall and Grive's How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers published in 1980). Its common name, Southern Cross, comes from the resemblance of the inflorescence to the constellation of the same name. The four stalks of the inflorescence create a cross, with clusters of white to pink flowers and bracts on each end.

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.

Apr 14, 2011: Olympic Peninsula Forest

Olympic Peninsula Forest

Today's entry was written by Claire:

This serene photograph of an enchanted forest on the Olympic Peninsula was submitted via the BPotD Submissions Forum by ferngirl42 of Seattle, WA.

If you are familiar with Pacific coastal forests in the continental northwest US, you'll know rainfall is one of the major factors in forest density and composition. The annual rainfall in some areas exceeds 350cm (~ 12ft.), permitting blanketing forests consisting mainly of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). The vegetation cover is so dense, hardly any sunlight pierces through the canopy. Close to the shoreline, though, the forest stalls, and light penetrates to the forest floor.

Near the shoreline, the Sitka spruce are not only exposed to the light, but also to the constant salt-laced maritime breeze (and sometimes ravaging winds). The burls (or burrs) are wood deformations caused by a stress to the growing tips of the plant. Some hypothesize that the salt-laced wind is responsible for burl formation in these Sitka spruces, others suggest viral or fungal damage. In general, the largest burls are found further south on coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), but the first and second largest burls known are on display in British Columbia, at Port McNeill, with the largest weighing in at 30,481kg (69,200lb).

In the thread posting, ferngirl42 also makes mention of searching in this area for Polypodium scouleri, a fern commonly known as leathery polypody. Scouler's polypody (named for John Scouler), or leather-leaf fern, can be found across the western coast of North America. It is sometimes epiphytic, and ferngirl42 notes that she has found it growing on the burls of these huge conifers.

Mar 21, 2011: Echium vulgare

Claire compiled today's entry:

Steve H from Northumberland, UK submitted the close-up photograph of Echium vulgare flowers via the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum. Thank you Steve! The second photograph of the plants growing in the dry ditch and forming a mosaic of blue was taken by Daniel mid-June in 2009, in Lower Nicola, British Columbia.

Viper's bugloss, blue-devil and blueweed are some common names for Echium vulgare. The species is a native of Europe and much of central Asia, but it has also naturalized in other parts of the world as well, including North America.

There are over 2700 species in Boraginaceae recognized worldwide (with most from Europe and Asia), though that number may change as the phylogeny of the group is resolved (see the Classification section from the link -- may be split into possibly 11 families!). Like Echium vulgare, many species in this family are herbs with prickly-hairy leaves. The coarseness of the hairs (caused by silicon dioxide and calcium carbonate deposits) can be quite an irritant to skin if plants are handled. Though the annual, biennial or short-lived perennial Echium vulgare is ornamental with its succession of blue flowers (caused by anthocyanin pigments) and height (to 1-2m, though sometimes shorter), it can also be a noxious, persistent weed in some regions. If interested in it for your garden, please take the time to research whether it is an appropriate planting for your area.

Other species of Echium are known to contain alkaloid compounds that can cause harm to livestock, even killing cattle, sheep and horses. Another member of the genus, Echium plantagineum, has been cited by the NNFCC (UK's National Non-foods Crop Centre) as being a useful oil crop (link to page with fact sheet).

Mar 16, 2011: Passiflora umbilicata

Passiflora umbilicata

Today's entry was written by Claire:

Submitted via the UBC Botanical Garden's Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum, Basorrie of North Carolinia, USA took this photograph of Passiflora umbilicata, a passionflower, at 3000m (9,800ft) in the Bolivian Andes above Cochabamba. Thank you Basorrie!

Passiflora umbilicata is indeed restricted to a high altitude range among the Andes of Bolivia and Argentina. It is a fast-growing, evergreen vine that produces beautiful complex-appearing flowers, a trait common to its genus of 500+ species. Passiflora contains a variety of flower morphologies, though the majority seem to follow the formula of three carpels, five stamens, five petals, and five sepals. In many species, the petals have become wiry and brightly colored, while the sepals look like what we normally think of as petals. As in this photo of Passiflora umbilicata, many species have a set of coloured bracts at the base of the flower. Passiflora umbilicata is pollinated by the genus' most common pollinator, bees. Other species are pollinated by larger insects such as butterflies and moths, or even bats and hummingbirds.

The fruit of Passiflora umbilicata is edible, much like the commercial passionfruit--Passiflora edulis. Not all species' fruits are edible, however, and many can be toxic, possessing cyanide-containing compounds. For these species, this could be a potential defense mechanism against being eaten before the fruit is ripe.

For a wide selection of photographs illustrating the traits of Passiflora, I highly recommend "Ian's Passiflora Website" courtesy of Ian Webb and his astounding Passiflora collection.

Nov 22, 2010: Pachycereus weberi

Pachycereus weberi

Claire again wrote today's entry:

Thank you to sweller of the UBC Botanical Garden Forums for this photograph of Pachycereus weberi (via the BPotD Submissions Forum).

Pachycereus weberi is known as candelabro, or Cardón Espinoso (the common name being an obvious reference to the resemblance of plants to candelabras). Its distribution ranges across desert scrub and deciduous forests of the southwestern Mexican states of Guererro, Puebla and Oaxaca. The genus has a native range of southern Arizona to Central America, and also includes the tallest cactus species, Pachycereus pringlei (an individual grew to 19.2m/63ft). In Pachycereus weberi, plants "only" reach approximately 10m tall and as nearly as wide.

Pachycereus weberi only produces white or yellow flowers. These bloom at night, with bats being the pollinators (as is common in the genus). The edible fruit has spines which dehisce when the fruit matures, possibly a mechanism to prevent eating of the unripe fruit. These spines (modified leaves), extend from the thick stem in a beautiful pattern (see some close-ups via Google Image Search). The seeds of the ripe fruit of Pachycereus weberi can be harvested and ground into a flour.

Apr 18, 2007: Erythronium americanum

Erythronium americanum

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 13, 2007: Annona muricata

Thank you to sabagal of Kansas City, Missouri for today's photographs from her time on the Caribbean island of Saba (in the Netherland Antilles). sabagal has posted the original photographs of these and other tropical fruits in this thread in the BPotD submissions forum. Do keep the thought in mind while reading sabagal's commentary on the images that Saba is only 13 km2 (5 square miles)! Thank you for sharing, sabagal.

I particularly liked what sabagal shared about her experiences with this fruit: "Soursop is so popular that people will pick it too green and even steal it. If you knew of a bush in a corner you never told anyone about it. We made smoothies, ice cream and cheesecake with it." Sounds precious!

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but yet again, Morton's Fruits of Warm Climates provides the most detailed information about this species online: Annona muricata. As noted in that article, soursop isn't the most marketable of names for this fruit. Neither is the Dutch common name, zuurzak, which translates to "acid bag" (source: Wikipedia). Chinese gooseberry became popular once it began to be sold as kiwifruit--perhaps a similar effort will one day be made on the behalf of soursop.

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