Is it Spring (Beauty) time already?! pt. II

After 3 more weeks of growth (and more seeds germinating), mature leaves are starting to emerge on some of the annual Claytonia that have germinated from my collections around California in 2013. Cauline leaf morphology is often the most diagnostic character for these taxa, so it is REALLY cool for me to observe these plants through their stages of development!

2013-12-24 15.10.03These annual taxa are well known for hybridization and polyploidy, and it has been suggested that many species complexes are morphologically variable and phenotypically plastic due to these processes, but these plants exhibit quite a bit of ontogenetic variability in leaf morphology in addition to plasticity. Take the Claytonia perfoliata (left) and C. perfoliata X parviflora hybrids (right) below: they still have strap-shaped leaves for the first few whorls, then they will both transition to different versions of ‘spoon-shaped’ and ultimately different degrees of fusion of the cauline leaf pair!

2013-12-24 15.02.08This Claytonia rubra (below) will ultimately look very similar the C. perfoliata x parviflora hybrids (above) in leaf morphology, but in contrast it will have beet red coloration on the abaxial (bottom) surfaces of its leaves.

2013-12-24 15.05.03Being able to identify the various stages of development for any Claytonia collection is imperative for identification–many of these annual taxa can only be distinguished from one another when at flowering maturity, albeit using their leaves!

2013-12-24 15.09.07The Claytonia gypsophiloides seedlings (above) will retain a rather linear leaf morphology of the basal-most leaves through flowering, but as internodes elongate and cauline leaves become more spread apart they will show various degrees of fusion involving leaves of a more lanceolate shape. In addition, these plants will mature to be quite glaucus throughout.

And of course, one cannot forget the ‘ugly duckling’, Claytonia saxosa (below), which is just a bit different from the rest. It will grow to have more oblanceolate-shaped basal leaves with wider cauline leaves that fuse partly at the base. According to a recent survey, Claytonia saxosa is said to be the cutest of all Claytonia!

2013-12-24 15.07.25

Still no sign of the tuberous perennials–I hope it gets cold enough for them to show up to the party!

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Is it Spring (Beauty) time already?! pt. I

2013-12-01 11.59.17Turns out that some of the seeds I ‘cast’ into pots this past spring season have germinated over the recent holiday weekend, including some Claytonia saxosa seeds collected from the North Coast Ranges of California. The cotyledons on these plants (pictured above) are a bit unlike the rest of the lot that have germinated in that they are very short and stout, in addition to being deep green in pigmentation. Thus far, all of the other “up and coming” seedlings, including those of C. rubra collected from the San Bernardino Mountains (pictured below), appear to have very elongate cotyledons that are considerably more strap-shaped and light green in pigmentation in comparison to C. saxosa.

2013-12-01 12.10.10In addition, there appears to be some differences among the taxa with more elongate cotyledons, as demonstrated by the C. gypsophiloides seedlings pictured below which seem to stand a bit taller than the rest of the species that have germinated thus far!2013-12-01 12.04.08Compare the cotyledons of C. gypsophiloides (above) with those of some C. perfoliata parviflora hybrids from northern California (below) and you might wonder if you couldn’t identify Claytonia before their first true leaves emerge!

2013-12-01 12.07.44I’ll be interested to see how things develop as we move closer to flowering season for Claytonia! The peculiarities of the C. saxosa seedlings are quite intriguing — I can’t wait for my tuberous perennials to germinate!!!