Thursday, September 26, 2013

Perennial Erythranthe glaucescens [...Sheild bracted monkeyflower, is, probably, 2 species. II]

Erythranthe glaucescens (nee Mimulus g.) - CNPS List 4 is, in your revised Jepson Manual (2012) - annual.  Nesom (2012) also circumscribes Erythranthe glaucescens as annual.  The type specimen of Erythranthe glaucescens is clearly an annual.  

As Nesom noted (p. 61) Macnair (1996) "behaves as a perennial in the glasshouse".  Furthermore, Nesom cited one specimen (Heller s.n. July 2, 1914) from "canyon Big Chico Creek" as a stoloniferous perennial.

Plants from the Middle Fork Feather River diversion dam, JEPS109856 (DWTaylor #19554) 6/28/2006 are without doubt perennial (see post August 3rd 2013)

Recently, Nesom (2013) discoursed on the duration races of other monkeyflowers:  he observed E. microphylla to be invariably annual, while E. guttata was clearly perennial.  The genomic mechanisms that integrate developmental patterns in higher plants must by definition differ greatly between annual and perennial plants (viz. the vernalization FLC gene pathway in Arabidopsis) - a rosette annual has to have genes that vernalization turns on about when its time...a fruit tree needs cold to fix other vernalization  genes in preparation for flowering each spring...A Sequoiadendron needs to NOT fail to flower each and every year for 3,000 years (a rosette-bearing Sequoia is an extinct Sequoia).  

Within monkeyflowers, a single natural taxon that switches between annual (or "facultative annual", if there is such a thing) and perennial duration is not likely.  Darwin would not approve of the notion of a "facultative annual".

For this reason, perennial Erythranthe 'glaucescens' are best judged an undescribed species.

Below: plants from JEPS109856 under cultivation: note the stolons which grow in directly horizontal radius (grown in pots in sand, these plunged in water). The stolons grow laterally, rooting at the nodes readily, and in this instance, only become negatively geotropic once the side of the pot is reached.  

Macnair, M.R. 1996. The Mimulus page. Pictures of Mimulus species. Mimulus guttatus complex.
Accessed Jan 2012.
Nesom, GL 2012.  Phytoneuron 40:1-123.
Nesom, GL. 2013.  Phytoneuron 2013-68:1-8
Thompson, D. 2012.  Mimulus, pp. 988-998 in: Baldwin etc. revised Jepson Manual

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The longest Sugar Pine cone?

Pinus lambertiana has, without doubt, the longest cone of any conifer.  How long? 

  • Botany of California (Brewer, Watson & Gray 1880) – 18 inches
  • Sudworth 1908 – Forest Trees Pacific Slope – to 23 inches
  • Jepson – Silva of California – 1910 – 18 inches
  • Jepson 1923 Manual – 18 inches
  • Flora North America Vol 2 (1993)  – to 50 cm (19.7 inches)
  • Haller & Vivertte in TJM2 – to 60 cm (23½ inches)
  • Wikipedia – to 26 inches
The stated range seems to be on the order of 18-26 inches – variation of about factor of nearly 1.5.  Maximal cone length therefore seems to be a statistic which bears investigation.   For example, in the best on-line conifer cone image collection, Arboretum de Villardebelle  (, their cone is only 13 inches long. 

Given the range of cone size estimates, it becomes evident that Sugar Pine cones 26 inches long need to be fully documented: geographic location, herbarium specimen, publication,  posted photographs.    In most conifers, cone volume is roughly correlated with number of seed.  In white pines, cone length, volume and seeds per cone are under strong genetic control (1).  Hence, record a Sugar Pine with cones >23 inches or so merits publicity.


1. Critchfield, W. B., and B. B. Kinloch. 1986. Sugar pine and its hybrids. Silvae Genetica 35(4):138-145

N.B.  Cone length will likely vary by a small factor related to wet weight - perhaps as much as 10%?  Report dry weight %.

Friday, September 20, 2013

An encounter with sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum) on the Monterey Bay – may I see your passport, please?

Crithmum maritimum L., the sea fennel or rock samphire, is a common and conspicuous perennial of Old World sea coasts:  “Maritime rocks, rarely on sand or shingle.  Atlantic Coast of Europe, northwards to Scotland, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts” reads the range description in Flora Europea (Vol. 2:333).  There are no specimens from California,  nor North America, that I find on-line.

Here I report Crithmum maritimum growing at Aptos, Santa Cruz County, California, United States, North America, western Hemisphere  a geographic location I can not find having been previously recorded, by continent that is.  Exactly at 36.969438/-121.907402.  A single large plant grows out of the treated-wood seawall fronting the beach at Seacliff Beach State Park, at the very highest elevation where wave action very infrequently reaches.

Crithmum maritimum is in a monotypic genus.  The available phylogenetic resolutions place Crithmum near genera in subfamily Saniculoideae, which in California there are a host of natives.   Crithmum is a strong halophyte: seeds germinate moderately even when soaked in sea water.   Crithmum is oleaginous: oils extracted from its seeds are apparently used medicinally.  Wikipedia imparts the factoid “In the 17th century, Shakespeare referred to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs”.   

How Crithmum maritimum arrived in California is a matter to consider: a) long distance dispersal of seeds across two oceans, via the Panama Canal, or b) escape from cultivation.  

A voucher specimen was duly squished.