Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 28th, 2015

Hot off the presses, so to speak, genetically speaking

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Skeletonleaf Goldeneye Flowering by Ocotillo 0014

The plant shown prettily flowering away here in Big Bend National Park on November 22, skeletonleaf goldeneye, used to be classified as Viguiera stenoloba, making it a genus-mate of the sunflower goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, that you saw recently. However, Prof. Michael Powell of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, who identified this flowering bush for me, pointed out that molecular research has recently caused botanists to reclassify skeletonleaf goldeneye as Stanleya tenuifolia. According to a 2011 article, all that seems to remain in the genus Viguiera is V. dentata, while four newly described genera—Dendroviguiera, Gonzalezia, Heiseria, and Sidneya—have been created to hold the other species formerly included in Viguiera. Welcome to a new world of botany in which the common name for a species is sometimes more stable than the scientific name.

The scraggly plants behind the skeletonleaf goldeneye are ocotillo, Fouquieria spelendens.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 28, 2015 at 4:43 AM

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