Saturday, March 28, 2015

Perfect Pea

Photo by Ned Harris 3/11/2015

Coursetia (aka Baby Bonnets) (Coursetia glandulosa) is blooming in force in Sabino Canyon. It's a great example of plants in the Pea Family (Fabaceae), which is the third largest family represented in the canyon (after Sunflower/Aster and Grass families).

The rest of this post is for the more interested learner, like you!
What makes Coursetia a great example of the Pea Family, you ask? Let's take a look at the three Fs: Foliage (green stuff), Flowers, and Fruits (things that contain/hold the seeds).

Photo by Matt Ball

The foliage of many Pea family plants can be described as: a line down the middle with leaves on either side. (See examples above.) The leaves are directly across from one another; size of leaves is irrelevant. If you see a plant that has this type of foliage, look at the flowers and/or fruits to determine if it's in the Pea Family. Most of the time, if  two of the three Fs are 'correct,' you can say with reasonable certainty that you are looking at a Pea Family plant. Remember this phrase: Two out of three, must be a pea. 

Close up of Coursetia flower by Matt Ball, finger by Anne
Don't try this on flowers in the canyon, please

The typical Pea family flower has 5 petals - one banner petal at the top (I'm holding this one in the photo above), 2 wing petals on either side, and 2 petals that form the keel (like the bottom of a boat), sometimes (as above) the 2 keel petals are fused.** Again, 5 petals - banner, 2 wings, 2 keel petals, sometimes fused together. (The non-petals you see above are the male and female reproductive parts.)
**Does every Pea family plant have this type of flower? No. Remember: For our purposes for Pea family plants in Sabino Canyon, 2 of 3, must be a pea.

Close up of Coursetia fruits by Ned Harris, hand by Anne

The typical Pea family plant has fruits (fruit = the thing that holds the seeds) that are pods. (Think Mesquite beans).**
**Does every Pea family plant have this type of fruit? No. Remember: For our purposes in Sabino Canyon, 2 of 3, must be a pea.

Will this work 100% of the time? Again, no. But it's a way to take a first step in learning more about plants. Try it out, if you'd like. You'll find that there are many, many plants in the Pea family (Fabaceae)!

No comments:

Post a Comment