Plant of the week–Caulanthus amplexicaulis

wpid-2015-10-28-17.36.42.jpg.jpegThis week’s plant is Caulanthus amplexicaulis, also known as the claspingleaf wild cabbage. It is endemic to parts of Southern California, where it blooms from May through July. It is another intense soil specialist–one of its subspecies is a serpentine specialist in found in the Santa Rafael Mountains. It is usually found in sloping areas. Its oval, glabrous (smooth) leaves are a strong contrast to many of the other leaves of plants I have shared, which were covered in fine hairs (hirsute).

Follow-up on Caulanthus coulteri

wpid-20151005_141624.jpgSeveral weeks ago, I made a post about Caulanthus coulteri (see here), because I couldn’t resist its adorable basal rosette that looks to me almost like a green sunflower. Here it is in full, glorious bloom. The cell phone camera image doesn’t do justice to the yellows and oranges mixed into that deep crimson coloring. Like Streptanthus insignis, it has that sterile flower structure topping its stem.

Plant of the week: Streptanthus farnsworthianus

Flowering S. farnsworthianus

This week’s Plant of the Week is Streptanthus farnsworthianus. Its common name is Farnsworth’s jewelflower, and it is found primarily in the woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Its flowers are very similar morphologically to the other jewelflowers I have shared recently (which is expected, since flower form is one of the primary characters that has been used in the past to designate taxonomic group, and unlike many other characters that are actually examples of convergent evolution, is comparatively reliable).

S. farnsworthianus with its first true leaves

This one is particularly interesting because of the dramatic morphological changes its leaves undergo as they get older. As you can see in the images, the first leaves are highly lobed, while the older leaves are entire (“entire” refers to leaves with smooth margins, or edges) and have an almost waxy look. They also turn this beautiful lavender color–usually mustards are purple when they’re stressed, but these ones are supposed to look this way.

Recommended article from Botanical Accuracy

This week in speedy plant-related posts, a break from pictures. Instead, I want to recommend a great read from Botanical Accuracy called “Dear New York Times, when will you start to care about taxonomic accuracy?”  about the totally horrendous disregard by the NYT for proper naming of species. A brief excerpt:

I think that the sloppiness shown in The New York Times when it comes to morphology and species taxonomy would never be accepted when it comes to historical facts and names related to people.  For scientific facts this doesn’t seem to matter to the editors, since fact-checking is lacking and pointed out errors persist and are not even corrected.

It’s great that the author also points out consequences to misnaming and misidentification, such as showing toxic plant pictures under the name of edible ones. This is one of those pieces of scientific advocacy that rarely comes up but is truly important when it comes to proper science communication and outreach.

Plant of the week 9/11/15

I’ve decided that while I’m studying and don’t have time for long reflective posts, I can still post pictures of baby mustards.


This cutie is Caulanthus coulteri, a species in the same tribe (a level of classification including more species than a genus but fewer than a family) as the plants I posted last week. Its common name is Coulter’s wild cabbage, and it is found in dry habitats such as the Mojave desert. It’s in its basal rosette stage in this image, but eventually it will grow bolt, growing a long stem and purple flowers similar to the Streptanthus from last week.