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Results tagged “written by bryant”

May 3, 2013: Ptilidium pulcherrimum

Ptilidium pulcherrimum

For the final time as a work-learn student with BPotD, Bryant DeRoy is again the author of today's entry. He writes:

A big thank you to Robert Klips (aka Orthotrichum@Flickr), who is a regular Botany Photo of the Day contributor via the BPotD Flickr Pool. Today's image is of Ptilidium pulcherrimum, one of three species in its genus and the only genus in its family, the Ptilidiaceae. This is the final post in the series on liverworts, and sadly, the last post in my one-year stint as BPotD work-learn assistant. I'd like to thank all of those who supported my position with their generous donations. (Daniel adds: I agree -- I especially appreciate that the sustained generosity means it's rare I have to mention it, and we can all instead keep focused on the plants. I expect to be introducing a new student assistant next week for the summer.)

Species of Ptilidium are mostly distributed around northern temperate regions of the world, but populations of Ptilidium ciliare are known from at least New Zealand and Tierra del Fuego in the Southern Hemisphere. This led to a hypothesis that the lineage evolved in Gondwana with a subsequent single dispersal to the Northern Hemisphere (and then evolution of the other taxa). However, recent molecular studies more strongly suggest that Ptilidium ciliare spread to its disjunct southern occurrences via separate long-distance dispersals from the north, by the translocation of plant fragments.

Like the other members of its genus, Ptilidium pulcherrimum is dioecious and thus produces antheridia on male plants and archegonia on female plants. Fertile individuals are common among Ptilidium pulcherrimum, and they tend to produce sporophytes or capsules. The genus name stems from the Greek word Ptilidion, meaning "small feather", alluding to the feathery appearance of the leaves. Densely packed marginal cilia on the deeply lobed leaves is cause for the billowy appearance of Ptilidium pulcherrimum. The leaves are generally around 1.8mm wide and roughly 1.4mm long. It can typically be found on living trees and woody shrubs, and can appear reddish to yellowy-green from afar.

May 2, 2013: Pachyschistochila splachnophylla

Pachyschistochila splachnophylla

Bryant wrote today's entry:

Thank you to Efe (aka Huenchecal.@Flickr) for today's image of Pachyschistochila splachnophylla, a member of the Schistochilaceae. This is the third post in the series on liverworts.

Pachyschistochila splachnophylla is an uncommon liverwort native to the Southern Hemisphere: Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. There is little information on this species online, but the species has been studied with regard to its ascomycete associations. This research has implications in the evolutionary history of land plant symbioses; see: Pressel et al. 2010. Fungal symbioses in bryophytes: New insights in the twenty first century (PDF). Phytotaxa. 9:238-253.

May 1, 2013: Nowellia curvifolia

Nowellia curvifolia

Today's entry was again written by Bryant, who writes:

Once again, a big thank you to Robert Klips (Orthotrichum@Flickr) for an image; Nowellia curvifolia was submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, and is the subject for the second post in the series on liverworts.

Nowellia curvifolia is a member of the Cephaloziaceae and is well-distributed throughout the Holarctic region and Central America. It can often be found on rotting logs in moist woodlands, and can sometimes be identified from a distance due to the reddish tone that develops in mature leaves. Up close, the leaves are deeply concaved and sail-shaped, converging to two fine hair-like tips. At the base of each leaf is a small water-sac. In Nowellia curvifolia these sacs seem to be for water-storage; however, water-sacs found in other species may develop a mechanism that can effectively trap microorganisms within the water-sac, suggestive of carnivory. See: Hess et al. 2005. Evidence of zoophagy in a second liverwort species, Pleurozia purpurea. The Bryologist. 108(2):212-218.

Apr 30, 2013: Marchantia polymorpha

Bryant is concluding his stint as Botany Photo of the Day work-learn student with a series on liverworts. He is the author of today's entry, and writes:

Today's photographs are courtesy of Robert Klips (aka Orthotrichum@Flickr) and BlueRidgeKitties @Flickr respectively (image 1, image 2). The two photographs are of Marchantia polymorpha, a near-cosmopolitan distributed member of the Marchantiaceae. It is frequently encountered, hence one of its common names: "common liverwort". Another name is umbrella liverwort. Marchantia polymorpha is a dioecious (or heterothallic) thallose liverwort, most often found in moist to wet areas near streams, bogs, and ponds. The thalli of Marchantia polymorpha can grow to around 10cm long and roughly 2cm across, and often form a flattened mat or rosette.

This being the first post in the series, I thought a little background on the natural history of liverworts might be of interest. There is no formal consensus on the classification of liverworts above the family level, however they are most often categorized as members of the division Marchantiophyta. Liverworts are considered to be some of the earliest true plants to colonize the land--the earliest fossil records of liverwort spores date back roughly 470 million years! By comparison, the earliest flowering plants are currently dated to 140 mya. The rather unfortunate common name of "liverwort" stems from the resemblance of cell structure in the leaves/thallus of some liverworts to those found in animal livers. This resemblance also caused liverworts to be used in early medicine to treat liver ailments, in accordance with the doctrine of signatures. Another distinguishing feature of liverworts is the single-celled root-like structures, known as rhizoids, which represent an early stage in the evolutionary development of roots in land plants. The life cycles of members of the Marchantiophyta vary greatly-- liverworts can be monoecious or dioecious (i.e., either both male and female in one individual, or each individual either male or female).

In some species (like Marchantia polymorpha), individuals may reproduce both sexually and asexually. The first image shows the female gametophytes, which produce the palm tree-shaped structures containing archegonia on the underside of each archegonial head. Sperm produced by the antheridia, located on the male gametophyte, fertilizes the ovum within the archegonia resulting in the production of a sporophyte. This may be better understood by looking at this useful diagram of the life cycle of some liverworts.

The second image shows a close up of the gemma cups containing gemmae, which are vegetative clones of the mother plant that are largely dispersed by wind or rain (allowing asexual reproduction to occur). In the image above you can see some of the gemmae have splashed out of the cups and on to the thallus!

Apr 24, 2013: Limnanthes douglasii subsp. douglasii

Limnanthes douglasii subsp. douglasii

Bryant DeRoy is the author of today's entry. He is going to work on a series on liverworts to conclude his time as a work-learn student with Botany Photo of the Day, to be featured next week.

Today's photograph is again from James Gaither (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr). In the previous entry featuring his photography, commenter Wendy Cutler pointed out that Jim passed away last year. I visited some of Jim's favourite sites to photograph while I was on vacation, and thought of him quite often -- he truly excelled at combining artistry with technique.

Jim photographed today's image of Limnanthes douglasii subsp. douglasii at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The image was submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Bryant writes:

Limnanthes douglasii subsp. douglasii is commonly known as the poached egg plant or yellow and white Douglas' meadowfoam. This annual species is a member of the Limnanthaceae, or meadowfoam family. This species is native to both California and Oregon, and is often found in moist to wet grassy meadow environments and/or near vernal pools. Although it seems to prefer well-drained soils, it can tolerate poorly-drained soils as well (e.g., those of claypan vernal pools). It self-seeds very efficiently and tends to naturalize given the right conditions; in some cases this can cause unwanted naturalization in lawns.

This species is known to attract hoverflies, and therefore can be useful in mitigating aphids. The Royal Horticulture Society has also given this species its prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Apr 19, 2013: Corylus maxima 'Purpurea'

Corylus maxima 'Purpurea'

Another entry from Bryant today. I return from vacation on Tuesday next week, and that should also be the date of the next BPotD entry. Bryant writes:

Once again, a big thank you to Eric Hunt (Eric Hunt@Flickr), a frequent BPotD contributor, for today's image of Corylus maxima 'Purpurea', or the purple-leaved filbert. This large shrub or small multi-stemmed tree typically grows to around 6-8m (20-26 ft.) high and roughly 2.5-4m (8-13ft) wide. Its leaves have coarsely-serrated margins, and measure roughly 4-10cm across and 5-12 cm (2-5 inches) long. The native distribution of Corylus maxima stretches from the Balkan peninsula to southwestern Asia. Due to both its popularity as an ornamental and its cultivation for fruit, it has naturalized in other regions with a suitable climate, such as the United Kingdom.

The showy male catkins of this species are developed in the late winter and produce copious amounts of pollen, as this species uses a wind-pollination mechanism. The nut of Corylus maxima has been used commercially, but with less popularity than its close relative, the hazelnut.

Apr 17, 2013: Sprengelia propinqua

Sprengelia propinqua

Bryant is again the author of today's entry, and he writes:

A big thank you to Bill Higham (Bill Higham@Flickr) for contributing today's image of Sprengelia propinqua via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Sprengelia propinqua, commonly known as western swampheath, is a member of the Ericaceae. It was previously thought to be within a single variable species, Sprengelia incarnata, but recently separated out as distinct species by some taxonomists. The species is endemic to Tasmania: Sprengelia propinqua distribution map.

Sprengelia propinqua and its close relative Sprengelia incarnata were both part of a 2011 study: Johnson, KA and PB McQuillan. Comparative floral presentation and bee-pollination in two Sprengelia species (PDF). Cunninghamia 12(1):45-51. This study provides additional justification for the cleaving of Sprengelia propinqua from Sprengelia incarnata, due to the observed differences in their antherial structures and pollen grains. These differences have caused the pollinators of both these species to employ differing techniques to harvest pollen from the nectar-less flowers. Pollinators who visited Sprengelia incarnata used the process of sonication to harvest pollen, whereas pollinators who visited Sprengelia propinqua tended to use a scraping technique to dislodge the slightly more cohesive pollen grains. In some cases, pollinators from the same genus (e.g., Exoneura or Lasioglossum) can employ these different techniques when visiting the respective species of Sprengelia.

Apr 15, 2013: Aesculus parviflora

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

A big thanks to stevieiriswattii!@Flickr for today's images of Aesculus parviflora (image 1 | image 2 | via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool).

Commonly known as bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora is a member of the Sapindaceae (and formerly placed in the Hippocastanaceae). The species is native to the southeastern United States (Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida). This deciduous shrub can range from 2.5-3.5m (8-12ft.) tall and 2.5-4.5m (8-15ft.) across, and typically reaches full bloom in the early to mid summer in its native range.

This species is has been declared a Plant of Merit by the Missouri Botanical Garden for its explosively showy inflorescence and intriguing palmate foliage, which can turn a bright golden yellow in the fall.

Apr 12, 2013: Agave shawii

Agave shawii

Bryant again authored today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to Sandy Steinman (Sandy Steinman@Flickr or his blog, Natural History Wanderings) for today's image of Agave shawii (commonly referred to as Shaw's agave). The photo was contributed via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Agave shawii is a small- to medium-sized member of the Asparagaceae. Basal rosettes of the plants, comprised of thick fleshy leaves with robust marginal spines, usually reach heights of about a meter (3 ft.) high and just under a meter wide upon maturity. It is native to Baja California as well as a few localities in southern California; this particular specimen was photographed at the Regional Parks Botanical Garden in Tilden Park, Berkeley, California.

The reproductive stalk pictured above grows about 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) tall and typically only flowers once! Like most species of Agave, Agave shawii is semelparous, meaning the rosette typically dies after it flowers. Many agaves allocate upwards of 50% of the measureable energy stored within their biomass to forming the reproductive structure and nectar for the proliferation of flowers; Agave shawii can take up to 30 years or more to do so depending on environmental conditions. Though the reproductive process may kill the parent individual, many agaves take up insurance measures in the form of vegetative rosettes that often form on the roots or sometimes the reproductive stem before, during or after the reproductive cycle takes place (see: Arizaga et al. 1995. Insurance against reproductive failure in a semelparous plant: bulbil formation in Agave macroacantha flowering stalks. (PDF) Oecologia. 101:329-334.). Therefore, clones of the parent individual may survive for centuries--often in small colonies.

It should also be mentioned that this species is considered rare and endangered in its California distribution, and imperiled/vulnerable globally.

Apr 10, 2013: Platycerium angolense

Platycerium angolense

Bryant is once again the author of today's entry. He writes:

A big thank you to Ton Rulkens (tonrulkens@Flickr) for this image of Platycerium angolense (sometimes referred to by its synonym Platycerium elephantotis, and in the Polypodiaceae). Ton's photograph of elephant ear fern was taken in the Muidumbe District in northern Mozambique. All species of Platycerium (commonly referred to as staghorn ferns) are epiphytic (but, not parasitic). This particular species is native to eastern and central Africa (except in the Congo basin), in forested areas with warm & wet weather during the growing season and drier & cooler (not cold) weather during its dormant season.

Like other members of the Platycerium, individuals of Platycerium angolense have two different types of fronds, shield or basal fronds and fertile fronds (pictured above). The basal fronds form a basin-like structure tight against the host tree, growing upwards with an opening at the top. This opening is thought to aid in fertilizing the plant, in that it catches water and falling detritus as well as the plant's own decaying leaf matter. The basal fronds also protect the rhizome (which attaches to the host tree) from desiccation by sun exposure or drought. The fertile fronds of Platycerium angolense are not lobed (unlike most Platycerium spp.) and typically droop downwards toward the forest floor. These fertile fronds usually develop large fertile spore patches on the undersides of each frond (which can be seen on the underside of the upper fronds in today's image).

Mar 29, 2013: Saxifraga burseriana

Saxifraga burseriana

Bryant DeRoy both wrote and photographed for this entry. He writes:

This image of Saxifraga burseriana was taken in the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden here at UBC Botanical Garden. Saxifraga burseriana is (unsurprisingly) a member of the saxifrage family, and is native to the Eastern Alps and the Dolomites, as well as some locales in the Tridentine Alps (Italy) and the Karawanks (Slovenia and Austria).

This is one of the earlier flowering species of Saxifraga, typically flowering in the late winter or early spring depending on location and altitude. This hardy mat-forming evergreen can be found at altitudes between 600 and 2500 meters in its native habitat. It can survive quite happily at even lower altitudes, making it a popular feature in rock gardens and well-drained troughs in temperate Mediterranean climates.

The flower stems typically reach lengths of 5 to 8 cm (2-3 in.) and the flowers can reach 2.5 cm (1 in.) in diameter. Due to its popularity among horticulturalists and some variability between individual plants, there is a long list of cultivars. More information on how to cultivate this beauty (and some of its relatives) can be found on Kew's site: Saxifraga burseriana.

Mar 25, 2013: Jatropha gossypiifolia

Jatropha gossypiifolia

Today's entry was written by Botany Photo of the Day work-study student, Bryant DeRoy. He writes:

Thank you to Anne Elliott (annkelliott@Flickr) for today's image of Jatropha gossypiifolia, contributed via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Jatropha gossypiifolia (commonly known as belly-ache bush) is a member of the Euphorbiaceae. It is native to New World tropical and subtropical regions from Mexico south to Paraguay, as well as many of the islands in the Caribbean. It is a large shrub or smaller short-lived tree, usually reaching heights of around 3.5 to 4.5 metres (8-15 ft.). The leaves are glossy with 3-5 lobes, and range from dark green to brick-red in colour. The margins, veins and petioles are sparsely covered in large glandular hairs. Jatropha gossypiifolia is commonly cultivated as an ornamental in tropical or warm arid environments, but its popularity as an ornamental has allowed it to naturalize in many regions outside its native distribution. It is now considered a noxious weed in some of these regions, including parts of Africa and Australia. For a highly detailed account of this species as well as additional images, see the Prota Database's website: Jatropha gossypiifolia.

Belly-ache bush's common name comes from its toxicity to humans (and other animals) when ingested. The major components responsible are the phytotoxin curcin and purgative oils (aka hell oils), both of which are found concentrated in the seeds. Despite its toxicity, some of the chemicals found in Jatropha gossypiifolia have been found to have medicinal qualities. This species has been used in traditional medicine throughout its native and introduced habitat for the treatment of ailments ranging from fever to cancer. For a highly detailed summary of this species chemical make-up and history of usage, visit the site of the International Programme on Chemical Safety: Jatropha gossypiifolia.

Mar 15, 2013: Eurya japonica

Eurya japonica

Bryant is both the author and photographer for today's entry. He writes:

Today's image was taken in the David C. Lam Asian Garden, here at the UBC Botanical Garden. This dioecious evergreen shrub is native to temperate and tropical Asia (China, Japan, India and Malaysia). I was tipped off to go look at this plant by Douglas Justice (Associate Director and Curator of Collections at UBCBG). At first I had trouble finding the plant as it was slightly hidden behind a couple rhododendrons but I definitely had no trouble smelling it. Eurya japonica gives off a pungent aroma that could be described as metallic or zinc-like mixed with hints of ammonia and carrion, which I became familiar with while taking this image. This member of the Pentaphylacaceae grows to about 3m high. Plants have serrated leaves that appear in a herringbone formation. For another image of the branch/flower morphology and some interesting information on its taxonomic relationships, see the previous BPotD post on Eurya japonica.

Eurya japonica is known to be sexually dimorphic, meaning male and female plants are morphologically different in additional ways beyond the physical structure of the reproductive organs. Sexual dimorphism is fairly common among dioecious plants, and when dimorphism involves defense mechanisms we tend to think primarily of leaves, thorns and prickles (vegetative tissues). However, there have been an increasing amount of studies on defense mechanisms against florivory (flower-eaters). Eurya japonica is the subject of one such study concerning the chemical defense of its female flowers; see: Tsuji, K. and Sota, T. 2010. Sexual differences in flower defense and correlated male-biased florivory in a plant-florivore system. Oikos, 119: 1848-1853. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18585.x.

In this case, the male flowers were observed to be eaten much more frequently than the female flowers by the florivorous larvae of the geometrid moth Chloroclystis excisa. This phenomenon was observed both in the wild and under controlled experimental conditions. In the wild, adult moths only deposited their eggs on male flowers. When eggs were deposited on the female flowers/buds of Eurya japonica in captivity, all of the resulting larvae that fed on the calyx of the female flower did not survive. This is believed to be due to higher concentrations of phenolic compounds and condensed tannins that occur in the female flowers. Generally, florivory of male flowers seems to be more prevalent than florivory of female flowers among sexually polymorphic plant species. Although there are some theories as to why this may be, there is much to be learned about the co-evolution of flowers and florivores and what truly makes sex-based selection occur.

For more reading relating to Eurya japonica and geometrid moth interactions see:

Kaoru Tsuji & Teiji Sota. 2011. Geographic variation in oviposition preference for male and female host plants in a geometrid moth: implications for evolution of host choice. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 141: 178-184.

For further reading on male-biased herbivory, see:

Lorne M. Wolf. 1997. Differential Flower Herbivory and Gall Formation on Males and Females of Neea psychotrioides, a Dioecious Tree. Biotropica, 29: 169-174.

Krupnick, G. A. et al. 1998. Floral herbivore effect on the sex expression of an andromonoecious plant, Isomeris arborea (Capparaceae). Plant Ecology. 134:151-162.

Mar 6, 2013: Crocus tommasinianus

Crocus tommasinianus

Bryant wrote today's entry:

Thank you to Drew Avery (Drew Avery@Flickr) for today's photograph of Crocus tommasinianus. The snow crocus or early crocus is a member of the Iridaceae. Locally, the recent "Pineapple Express" that brought consistent heavy rains and slightly warmer temperatures seems to have stirred the crocuses, and they have been popping up all over Vancouver. This species is among the first to appear, often in the late winter or early spring. Crocus tommasinianus is native to Bulgaria, Hungary and former Yugoslavia, though it is now cultivated widely throughout temperate regions. Crocus tommasinianus was named after the late Muzio G. Spirito de Tommasini (1794-1879), botanist and elected mayor of Trieste in 1839.

Species of Crocus are of high economic value not only for their prominence in the ornamental bulb trade, but also because of the stigmas of the saffron crocus. For more information on the saffron crocus, see the former BPotD post on Crocus sativus.

For those interested in growing Crocus tommasinianus, it has a reputation of naturalizing fairly quickly through self-seeding and corm offsets. It is a smaller crocus, reaching up to 10cm (4 inches) high during its peak growth years. Flowers are approximately 4cm (1.5in.) across. For more information on cultivating this species, see the Royal Horticultural Society's page on Crocus tommasinianus (note that it is an RHS Award of Garden Merit winner).

Mar 1, 2013: Halfordia kendack

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to dustaway@Flickr for today's photographs (photo 1 | photo 2) of Halfordia kendack (ghittoe), a member of the Rutaceae. This tree is native to eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea, usually growing at altitudes between 0-450 meters (0-1500 feet). Halfordia kendack can sometimes exceed 30 meters (100 feet) high at maturity. Ecologically, trees have been observed as forming part of the subcanopy and canopy layers in forests.

The leaves often form in an alternate spiral arrangement up each branch, ending in a terminal inflorescence consisting of a number of bisexual flowers. Each flower measures around 1cm (.5 in) in diameter, and has 10 stamens and a green superior ovary. The fruits can reach about 1cm in diameter as well, and are dark purple (turning slighty reddish when ripened). The wood of Halfordia kendack is highly flammable, earning it another common name--kerosene wood. It is apparently easy to chip the wood and light it with a match to start a fire, even when wet. Although I could not find any definitive evidence of its edibility for humans, its berries are common forage for a number of avian species and the leaves are popular among caterpillars of the fuscous swallowtail.

Feb 21, 2013: Diaphananthe pellucida

Today's entry was written by Bryant:

Thank you to frequent BPotD contributor Bart Wursten (aka zimbart@Flickr) for today's images of Diaphananthe pellucida, submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (image 1 | image 2).

This primarily epiphytic (sometimes lithophytic) member of the Orchidaceae is native to evergreen forested areas in a number of different African nations. Diaphananthe pellucida grows at elevations between 600 and 1800 meters (~2000-6000 feet). Plants are commonly located in moist pockets on tree trunks and branches. The flowers typically measure about 2cm (.7 inches) across, and occur abundantly on long downward-drooping racemes (20-50cm). More photographs of this species in its native habitat can be found via the species page for Diaphananthe pellucida on the Tropicos website.

Feb 18, 2013: Plinia cauliflora

Plinia cauliflora

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

Today's image is of Plinia cauliflora (aka jabuticaba, jaboticaba, or Brazilian grapetree). The photograph was taken by Bruno Karklis and was sourced via the Wikimedia Commons. To see this species in flower (highly recommended), view this photograph by frequent BPotD contributor 3Point141@Flickr.

This remarkable member of the Myrtaceae is native to a number of states in Brazil. The proliferation of black 3-4cm-in-diameter grape-like fruits seen growing directly out of the trunk are a striking demonstration of the habit known as cauliflory. It is thought that cauliflory is sometimes an adaptation to promote pollination and seed dispersal by animals that may have trouble climbing or flying high up in the canopy. It is also suggested that sometimes cauliflory may increase pollination by insects inhabiting lower levels of a forest community. Yet another hypothesis, for species such as jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) and papaya (Carica papaya), is that cauliflory provides a better support structure for their exceedingly large fruits; see the Wisconsin Master Gardener Program's page on cauliflory for more reading.

The fruits of Plinia cauliflora are edible and have been used in a variety of ways as food and drink. Apparently the fruits do not have a long shelf life and often begin to ferment shortly after being picked, making them an excellent candidate for wines and liqueurs. The species is commercially cultivated for its fruit (which may be produced several times a year with frequent irrigation), as well as for the bonsai trade due to its generally slow growth rates. The fruits also have shown several medicinal qualities, including containing antioxidants with anti-inflammatory/anti-cancer activity; see Reynerson, KA et al. 2006. Bioactive Depsides and Anthocyanins from Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora). Journal of Natural Products. 69(8):1228-1230. Traditionally, the dried skins of the fruit have been used to treat a variety of ailments including asthma and swollen tonsils.

Feb 7, 2013: Aristolochia steupii

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to Ingo of northern Germany for contributing today's photographs of Aristolochia steupii, a member of the Aristolochiaceae. Many members of the genus are commonly referred to as Dutchman's pipes, pipevines or birthworts. Aristolochia steupii is native to the thickets and woods of the Georgia portion (the country) of the South Caucasus.

Aristolochia is comprised of over five hundred species of woody vines (lianas) and herbaceous perennials. The flowers lack a corolla (ring of petals) and instead develop from an inflated and extended perianth consisting only of the calyx. The fruits form into dehiscent capsules containing many seeds.

Members of Aristolochia (often?) contain the carcinogenic aristolochic acid. Despite being listed as a Group 1 carcinogen, many members of Aristolochia have historically been used or are still being used in naturopathic medicine/ traditional Chinese medicine. Extracts from a few species of Aristolochia have been used as successful remedy for snakebites, where the compounds act by chemically deactivating the venom.

Jan 30, 2013: Euphorbia punicea

Euphorbia punicea

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to Anne Elliott (aka annkelliott@Flickr) for today's image of Euphorbia punicea. Another image of this species was submitted by frequent BPotD contributor 3Point141: Euphorbia punicea, also shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Jamaican poinsettia is an evergreen succulent shrub that is native to Jamaica, but has been introduced to other parts of the Caribbean and southeastern United States (mainly Florida). Euphorbia includes an exceptional diversity of species, ranging from cactus-like succulents to the widely cultivated Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia) that is often used for decoration during the December holidays in some parts of the world. To see some examples of the diversity within Euphorbia and the Euphorbiaceae, check out the site of the International Euphorbia Society. Even solely within Euphorbia punicea there is observed to be much morphological variation, see: Rikus van Velduisen. 2006. Some Notes on Euphorbia punicea Swartz and Related Species (PDF). Euphorbia World. 1(3):5-8?.

Euphorbia punicea begins to flower near mid/late December and may continue to do so until around July; the development of flowers is thought to be triggered by slightly shorter days. This species typically grows to 3-5m high (although a few much taller specimens have been described), and is commonly found on rocky limestone soils in its native habitat. The pink structures are bracts, and their bright colouration is triggered by the process of flower initiation. A combination of anthocyanins and flavonols pigment the bracts. Bract colour (from red to pink) in related Euphorbia species has been observed to vary in part with the proportion of anthocyanins to flavonols, see: Stewart, RN et al. 1980. The anthocyanin and flavonol composition of three families of poinsettia colour sports. Journal of Heredity 71:140-142.

Jan 25, 2013: Noteroclada confluens

Noteroclada confluens

Bryant writes:

A big thank you to Huenchecal.@Flickr (aka Efe) for contributing today's photo via the BPotD Flickr Pool. The image is of Noteroclada confluens, a liverwort native to South America. It is a member of the Pelliaceae, a relatively small family with only two genera, Pellia and Noteroclada. There has been some confusion to whether Noteroclada is phylogenetically related to Fossombronia; however, the confusion is thought to stem from a historical mixing of characteristics between Fossombronia and Noteroclada as well as the addition of the synonym Androcryphia. Noteroclada is now thought to be clearly distinguished. Recently, a comprehensive study (complete with some excellent scanning electron micrographs) was conducted to settle the confusion and provide evidence for the modern classification of members of Noteroclada, see: Crandall-Stotler et al. 2010. On the morphology, systematics, and phylogeny of Noteroclada (Noterocladaceae, Marchintiophyta) (PDF). Nova Hedwigia. 91(3-4): 421-450.

Like other members of its genus, Noteroclada confluens often forms dense mats in moist areas along the banks of streams, ponds, bogs and seeps (but does not grow when submerged). Members of the Noteroclada are also known for their relationship with glomeromycotean fungi, which form a network of arbuscular mycorrhizae around the thalli (or undifferentiated vegetative tissue) of the liverworts. Another interesting feature of this species is the rather astonishing morphology of its sporophyte (spore-bearing structure), which can reach extraordinary lengths. For examples, see Noteroclada confluens with sporophytes and this image of an unidentified Noteroclada species with a sporophyte.


a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

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