Sunday, March 22, 2015

Speaking of the Borage family...

Photo by Bob Wenrick 3/18/2015

Next to the gneiss rock, you see a fine example of a flowering plant in the Borage family (with a bonus caterpillar). Click on the photo and note the hairy foliage (i.e., green stuff) characteristic of this family. This is Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia).

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/18/2015

This Borage family plant is serving a White Checkered-Skipper some nectar. Again, click on the photo for a hairier view of the foliage (stem, leaves). This is one of the Phacelia species (probably Phacelia distans).

For the more interested learner:
In order to figure out to which family a flowering plant belongs, we look at the three Fs; Foliage (green stuff), Flower, and Fruit (the thing that contains/holds the seeds). For the Borage family, we're looking for hairy foliage, small flowers with parts in fives, and tiny fruits (usually need a magnifier to distinguish between species).**

For the even more interested learner:
When you recognize that a plant in Sabino Canyon is in the Borage family, you can narrow things down further by consulting Joan Tedford's plant list (that I'll provide upon polite request). There are only 21 species of Borage family plants in Sabino Canyon. I know you're thinking: "Anne, that's a lot of species." But you know that Amsinckia species (2) are yellow-orange; all the Cryptantha (3), Pectocarya (3), and Plagiobothrys species (2) are white; the Phacelia species (5) are purple/blue; well, that's 15 (of the 21) right there. (Make those notes on your list and you'll know as much as I do!)
More importantly, though, once you can recognize plants in the Borage family, you'll be able to recognize this family in other places.**

**Will this family approach work 100% of the time? Of course not, but in my experience, it's easier to learn this way than to memorize each individual plant. Try it out and see how it works for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment