Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fred finds Four O'clock Family flowers

Photos and text by Fred Heath, on or shortly before 3/13/2017

The other day while walking on the tram road in Sabino above Tram Stop #1, I noticed a white flower which looked both familiar and different at the same time. I was fairly certain it was in the Four O’Clock Family (Nyctaginaceae) and was leaning towards something like a Wishbone Bush, a Four O’Clock which has white flowers, when I noticed another plant next to the first which was clearly a Trailing Four O’Clock or Windmills (Allionia incarnata). Problem solved: it was an unusual white flowered Trailing Four O’Clock. Brian Gersten pointed out that he had noticed and photographed a similar white flowered specimen a couple of years before in the same area.

Today I went back in the area and found several white flowered plants spread over several yards of roadside.

The Allionia flower is unique in another way. Although I vaguely remembered (many of my botanic recollections are vague), Debbie Bird reminded me that what appears to be a single flower on the Allionia is actually 3 separate flowers growing together. Each flower has a single white pistil (hard to pick out on the white-flowered flower) and five yellow stamens.

Today Debbie also pointed out a Trailing Four O’Clock with much smaller flowers (1/4” across instead of 1” for the more typical plants in Sabino). At first I was dubious, thinking (or not) that it was just a plant with stunted flowers from lack of water. However after looking a little more closely at the plant and with Debbie showing me that there is a small variety called A. incarnata var. incarnata as opposed to the typical sized A. incarnata var. villosa I had to agree. I took a photo of this plant, so everyone could appreciate the wonder of this variety (not to mention the botanic knowledge of Debbie).

Thanks Fred (and Debbie) for more great finds!

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