Category Archives: Botany

Friday Fellow: Pellucid Four-Tooth Moss

by Piter Kehoma Boll

It’s time to go back to the tiny ones, the mosses. The third species of this group to be featured here is called Tetraphis pellucida or the pellucid four-tooth moss. Found in the northern hemisphere, this species is common in deciduous forests and grows almost exclusively on decaying wood of coniferous trees.

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The general appearance of the pellucid four-tooth moss on a decaying log. Photo by Hermann Schachner.*

The pellucid four-tooth moss can have two different modes of reproduction: sexual and asexual. The sexual reproduction occurs in a way similar to that found in most mosses. The asexual one, however, is somewhat peculiar and happens through the production of propagules called gammae. Gemmae can occur along a stalk, being called stalk gemmae, or inside a cup formed by three to five large leaves, a structure called gemmae cup. Gemmae from both stalks and cups are propelled by the power of raindrops. What is interesting is that the type of gemmae structure seems to be related to the inclination of the surface in which the moss grows. From a horizontal surface to one with an inclination of about 18°, cups are more common, possibly because a water drops falling inside a cup propels the gemmae with great speed upward. On surfaces with inclinations above 18°, stalks are more common, as a cup lying on its side wouldn’t be very useful, and water can wash down gemmae from stalks more easily.

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A closer look showing several gemmae cups. Photo by Hermann Schachner.

Regarding dispersal, spores from sexual reproduction seem to be able to move farther away from the mother, but they are not as successful in germinating and occupying a new substract as gemmae. Thus, the different reproduction modes seem to help this amazing little moss to spread by adapting to the most adequate means.

However, when other moss species arrive at the substrate, the pellucid four-tooth moss is rapidly replaced. It has, therefore, a very low success when competing with other species. How can it be one of the most common species in its habitat then? Well, it is so because the specialized propagules of the pellucid four-tooth moth allow it to quickly colonize newly-formed substrates, which arise from the common disturbances on the forest floor. No other species can colonize that quickly, but as they can easily dislodge our fellow, there is an endless struggle to survive. The pellucid four-tooth moss relies on disturbance to go on.

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References:

Kimmerer, R. W. (1991) Reproductive ecology of Tetraphis pellucida. I. Population density and reproductive mode. The Bryologist 94(3): 255-260. https://doi.org/10.2307/3243962

Kimmerer, R. W. (1991) Reproductive ecology of Tetraphis pellucida. II. Differential Success of Sexual and Asexual Propagules. The Bryologist 94(3): 284–288. https://doi.org/10.2307/3243966

Kimmerer, R. W. (1993) Disturbance and dominance in Tetraphis pellucida: a model of disturbance frequency and reproductive mode. The Bryologist 96(1): 73-79. https://doi.org/10.2307/3243322

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Friday Fellow: Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe

by Piter Kehoma Boll

When we see plants with large and colorful flowers, they are usually ornamental varieties produced by humans through selected breeding, but sometimes some of those plants exist in all that exuberance in the wild as well and one of them is the Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia gigantea.

Native from the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, especially in the states of Bahia and Minas Gerais, the Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe is a liana that belongs to the widespread genus Aristolochia, commonly known as Dutchman’s Pipe because of another species, Aristolochia durior, which resembles a smoking pipe. The Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, however, does not resemble a pipe that much, and some people say that it actually looks like a human’s vulva.

Aristolochia_gigantea

The flower of the Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe. Photo by Ken Slade.*

The beauty of the Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe’s flowers led it to become an ornamental plant. However, it does not tolerate temperatures below 10°C, so in colder countries, such as in Europe or North America, it must be cultivated in Greenhouses or other structures that prevent the temperature from dropping too much.

Most species of Dutchman’s Pipe release a scent of rotting meat that attracts their pollinators, mainly flies. The Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, however, releases a pleasant citronella-like odor but is still pollinized by flies.

Due to the widespread occurrence of the genus Aristolochia, the cultivation of the Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe in the northern hemisphere can also lead to some ecological disasters. The pipevine swallowtail Battus philenor is a butterfly whose caterpillars feed on the leaves of several Neartic species of Aristolochia. When faced with the Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, the butterflies mistake it for one of its native hosts and lay their eggs there, but the poor caterpillars cannot survive on this plant and end up dying.

Sometimes our need for beauty can also take some beauty away.

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References:

Hipólito, J.; Viana, B. F.; Selbach-Schnadelbach, A.; Galetto, L.; Kevan, P. G. (2012) Pollination biology and genetic variability of a giant perfumed flower (Aristolochia gigantea Mart. and Zucc., Aristolochiaceae) visited mainly by small Diptera. Botany 90(9): 815-829. https://doi.org/10.1139/b2012-047

Wikipedia. Aristolochia gigantea. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristolochia_gigantea >. Access on March 25, 2018.

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Friday Fellow: Giant Salvinia

by Piter Kehoma Boll

We are moving out of the sea this week, but will still remain in the water to bring you a peculiar fern. Commonly known as giant salvinia, kariba weed or giant watermoss, its scientific name is Salvinia molesta and it comes from southeastern Brazil.

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Fronds of Salvinia molesta growing in Hawaii. Photo by Forrest & Kim Starr.*

The water salvinia is an aquatic fern that floats on the surface of the water and has a peculiar anatomy. It lacks roots, and it produces leaves in sets of three. Two of them remain at the surface of the water, side by side, and the third one is submerged, acting like a modified root. The upper side of the surface leaves (which are anatomically their underside) have many small hairs that turn them into a waterproof surface and the underside have very long hairs that look like roots.

Preferring slow-moving waters, the giant salvinia grows very quickly in ideal conditions and has become an invasive species in several parts of the world. It was exported from Brazil to be used in aquaria and garden ponds and ended up in natural environments. While spreading, the giant salvinia can cover the entire surface of water bodies, blocking light for other plants and algae, which decreases photosynthesis and reduces the amount of oxygen in the water. Additionally, it can clog waterways, blocking natural or artificial water flows.

The problem caused by the giant salvinia in areas where it has become invasive led to the development of control methods. One of the simplest methods is simply removing the plants mechanically, but it is difficult in areas with large infestations, as even small remaining populations may quickly recover. Another alternative is the use of biological control using Cyrtobagous salviniae, a tiny weevil that feeds on the giant salvinia in its natural environment.

Not everything about the giant salvinia is bad, actually. Its peculiar leaf anatomy led to the discovery of what was properly called “the salvinia effect”, a phenomen by which an air layer becomes stable over a submerged surface, as in the leaves of species of Salvinia. By developing artificial structures that make use of this phenomenon, it is possible to produce devices that move smoothly in water, such as ships with reduced friction.

A considerably recent study also found out that some compounds extracted from the giant salvinia are effective in the control of human tumor cells.

Our relationship with this peculiar plant is therefore one of love and hate.

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References:

Coetzee, J. A.; Hill, M. P.; Byrne, M. J.; Bownes, A. (2011) A Review of the Biological Control Programmes on Eichhornia crassipes (C.Mart.) Solms (Pontederiaceae), Salvinia molesta D.S.Mitch. (Salviniaceae), Pistia stratiotes L. (Araceae), Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell.) Verdc. (Haloragaceae) and Azolla filiculoides Lam. (Azollaceae) in South Africa. African Entomology 19: 451-468.

Li, S.; Wang, P.; Deng, G.;  Yuan, W.; Su, Z. (2013)  Cytotoxic compounds from invasive giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) against human tumor cells. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters 23(24): 6682-6687.

Wikipedia. Salvinia molesta. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvinia_molesta >. Access on February 21, 2018.

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Friday Fellow: Timor Black Bamboo

by Piter Kehoma Boll

If there is one important family of flowering plants that hasn’t been featured here yet is the grass family Poaceae. And what would be a better grass to be the first one than a bamboo? So here we have the Timor black bamboo Bambusa lako.

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The beautiful black culms of the Timor black bamboo. Photo by Cas Liber.

As its common name suggests, this species is native from the island of Timor, one of the lesser Sunda Islands in the Indonesian Archipelago. One of the most striking features of the Timor black bamboo is its black stem. As in all bamboos, the stem of the Timor black bamboo is divided into culms. Those are initially green, but become shiny black when mature and may reach 10 cm in diameter. The whole plant can reach a height of 21 m.

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A young and still green branch of the Timor black bamboo. Photo by Mitchell Adams.*

Although still classified in the genus Bambusa, it is known since 2000 that the Timor Black Bamboo is closely related to the genus Gigantochloa, which includes other black bamboos, such as the common black bamboo Gigantochloa atroviolacea.

Currently, the Timor black bamboo is found in many places worldwide and widely used for decoration and landscaping purposes due to its peculiar color.

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References:

Loh, J. P.; Kiew, R.; Set, O.; Gan, L. H.; Gan, Y.-Y. (2000) A Study of Genetic Variation and Relationships within the Bamboo Subtribe Bambusinae using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism. Annals of Botany 85: 607–612. https://doi.org/10.1006/anbo.2000.1109

Wikipedia. Bambusa lako. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bambusa_lako >. Access on January 22, 2017.

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Friday Fellow: Yerba Mate

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Christmas is in a few days and a plant that is always associated to this time of the year in Europe is the holly Ilex aquifolium. I was about to make it today’s Friday Fellow, but then I thought: why not a less popular but much cooler relative?

So let’s welcome Ilex paraguariensis, the yerba mate!

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Detail of a branch of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis). Photo by Leandro Kibisz.*

The yerba mate is a shrub or tree that can grow up to 15 meters in height and is found in several forest fosrmations of South America, especially along the Paraguay and Paraná rivers. The leaves are oval and have a dark green color and a slightly serrated margin. The flowers are mall and lack petals and the fruits are red as in its European cousin.

The leaves of yerba mate are used for the preparation of a traditional beverage called mate in both Spanish and Portuguese, and also as chimarrão in Portuguese. It is traditionally consumed in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil, as well as in some areas of Bolivia and Chile. The consumption of mate started with the guarani people and later  spread to the Tupi and to the European colonizers and is currently associated with the gaucho culture in South America.

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A man drinking mate. Photo by Aslam Singh.**

The leaves of yerba mate are rich in caffeine and polyphenols, thus having stimulant, diuretic and antioxidant properties. The beverage seems to be able to help in weight loss by reducing the absorption of lipids and can also reduz the risk os several types of cancer. However, there are some evidence connecting the consumption of mate with increased risk of some cancers as well, such as oral and esophageal cancer. This risk, however, may be more related to the temperature of the beverage than the plant itself, so try not to drink it too hot!

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References:

Heck, C. I.; De Mejia, E. G. Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations. Journal of Food Science, 72(9):R138–R151. DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00535.x

Wikipedia. Yerba mate. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mate >. Access on December 17, 2017.

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The history of Systematics: Plants in Systema Naturae, 1758 (Part 7)

by Piter Kehoma Boll

We are approaching the end of the description of Linnaeus’ classification of Plants (see parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). Today I’ll show two more classes, the last two of plants with mainly hermaphrodite flowers.

19. Syngenesia (“same generation”)

“Husbands composed of a generative compact”, i.e., the stamens are united, forming a cylinder.

19.1 Syngenesia Polygamia Aequalis (“same generation, many equal marriages”), compound flowers formed by several small compact flowers, all having stamens and pistils: Scolymus (golden thistles), Cichorium (chicories), Catananche (cupid’s darts), Hypochaeris (cat’s ears), Andryala (andryalas), Tragopogon (goatsbeards), Picris (oxtongues), Leontodon (hawkbits and dandelions), Sonchus (sow thistles), Scorzonera (salsifies), Crepis (hawksbeards), Chondrilla (skeletonweeds), Prenanthes (rattlesnake roots), Lactuca (lettuces), Hieracium (hawkweeds), Lapsana (nippleworts), Hyoseris (hyoserises), Elephantopus (elephant’s foot), Atractylis (spindle thistles), Carlina (carline thistles), Cnicus (thistles), Arctium (burdocks), Carthamus (distaff thistles), Cynara (alcachofras), Carduus (more thistles), Onopordum (cotton thistles), Serratula (plumeless saw-worts), Echinops (globe thistles), Ageratum (whiteweeds), Cacalia (false plantains), Chrysocoma (goldenhairs), Eupatorium (thoroughworts), Santolina (cotton lavenders), Bidens (beggarticks), Staehelina (staehelinas), Stoebe (stoebes), Tarchonanthus (camphor bush).

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The diverse order Syngenesia Polygamia Aequalis included (from left to right, top to bottom) the common goatsbeard (Tragopogon porrifolius), black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica), bristly oxtongue (Picris echioides, now Helminthotheca echioides), common sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus), garden lettuce (Lactuca sativa), rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea), common rattlesnake root (Prenanthes purpurea), common dandelion (Leontodon taraxacum, now Taraxacum officinale), rattlesnake hawkweed (Hieracium venosum), beaked hawksbeard (Crepis vesicaria), common andryala (Andryala integrifolia), smooth hyoseris (Hyoseris scabra), common cat’s ear (Hypochaeris radicata), common nipplewort (Lapsana communis), blue cupid’s dart (Catananche caerulea), common chicory (Cichorium intybus), Spanish golden thistle (Scolimus hispanicus), smooth elephant’s foot (Elephantopus scaber), great globe thistle (Echinops sphaerocephalus), great burdock (Arctium lappa), dyer’s plumeless saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria), musk thistle (Carduus nutans), holy thistle (Cnicus benedictus, now Centaurea benedicta), common cotton thistle (Onopordum acanthium), globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus), common carline thistle (Carlina vulgaris), common spindle thistle (Atractylus huilis), safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), common beggartick (Bidens pilosa), Alpine plantain (Cacalia alpina, now Adenostyles alpina), tall thoroughwort (Eupatorium altissimum), common whiteweed (Ageratum conyzoides), dubious staehelina (Staehelina dubia), common goldenhair (Chrysocoma coma-aurea), camphor bush (Tarchonanthus camphoratus), and common cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus). Credits to Stephen Lea (goatsbeard), H. Zell (salsify, lettuce, cotton thistle), Tony Wills (sow thistle), Radio Toreng (skeletonweed), Jane Shelby Richardson (hawkweed), Manfred Moitzi (hawksbeard), Pablo Alberto Salguero Quilles (andryala), smooth hyoseris (Hyoseris scabra), Javier Martin (hyoseris, spindle thistle), Phil Sellens (nipplewort), Isidre Blanc (cupid’s dart, staehelina), Joaquim Alves Gaspar (chicory, golden thistle, globe artichoke), Dinesh Valke (elephant’s foot), Enrico Blasutto (burdock), Kristian Peters (plumeless saw-wort), Bernd Haynold (musk thistle), Philipp Weigell (carline thistle), Vishesh Bajpai (beggartick),Benjammin Zwittnig (Alpine plantain), Frank Mayfield (thoroughwort), Peter A. Mansfeld (goldenhair), Paul Venter (camphor bush), Marie-Lan Nguyen (cotton lavender), and Wikimedia users AnemoneProjectors (oxtongue, cat’s ear), Calimo (rattlesnake root), Kropsoq (dandelion), Epp (globe thistle), 00temari (holy thistle), Pseudoanas (safflower) and Leoadec (whiteweed).*

19.2 Syngenesia Polygamia Superflua (“same generation, many remaining marriages”), compound flowers formed by several small compact flowers forming a central disk of hermaphrodite flowers surrounded by a ring of feminine flowers. Both hermaphrodite and feminine flowers are fertile and produce seeds: Tanacetum (tansies), Artemisia (artemisias), Gnaphalium (cudweeds), Xeranthemum (dry everlastings), Carpesium (carpesiums), Baccharis (baccharises), Conyza (horseweeds), Erigeron (fleabanes), Tussilago (coltsfoots), Senecio (ragworts and groundsels), Aster (asters), Solidago (goldenrods), Inula (inulas), Arnica (arnicas), Doronicum (leopard’s banes), Helenium (sneezeweeds), Bellis (daisies), Tagetes (marigolds), Zinnia (zinnias), Pectis (cinchweeds), Chrysanthemum (chrysanthemums and daisies), Matricaria (chamomiles), Cotula (water buttons), Anacyclus (anacycles), Anthemis (false chamomiles), Achillea (yarrows), Tridax (coatbuttons), Amellus (amelluses), Sigesbeckia (St. Paul’s worts), Verbesina (crownbeards), Tetragonotheca (neverays), Buphthalmum (ox-eyes).

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Linnaeus put this species in the order Syngenesia Polygamia Superflua (from left to right, top to bottom): common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), heath cudweed (Gnaphalium sylvaticum), annual dry everlasting (Xeranthemum anuum), saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia), one-flower fleabane (Erigeron uniflorus), common coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), Italian aster (Aster amellus), seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), hairy inula (Inula hirta), mountain arnica (Arnica montana), common leopard’s bane (Doronicum pardalianches), common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), common daisy (Bellis perennis), French marigold (Tagetes patula), Peruvian zinnia (Zinnia peruviana), Indian chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum), common chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), buttonweed (Cotula coronopifolia), common anacycle (Anacyclus valentinus), sea false-chamomile (Anthemis maritima), common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), coatbuttons (Tridax procumbens), eastern St. Paul’s wort (Siegesbeckia orientalis), ox-eye (Buphthalmum salicifolium>). Credits to Muriel Bendel (tansy), Hermann Schachner (cudweed), Musa Geçit (dry everlasting), Bob Peterson (saltbush, coatbuttons), André Karwath (coltsfoot, daisy), C T Johansson (aster), Sam Fraser-Smith (goldenrod), Kurt Stüber (inula), Isidre Blanc (arnica), Agnieszka Kwiecien (sneezeweed), Lynda Poulter (chamomile), Walter Siegmund (buttonweed), Denis Barthel (false-chamomile), Petar Milošević (yarrow), and Wikimedia users N-Baudet (wormwood), Ghislain118 (fleabane), AnRo0002 (groundsel), Jamain (leopard’s bane, ox-eye), Rasbak (marigold), Vengolis (zinnia), Joydeep (chrysanthemum), Philmarin (anacycle) and Elouanne (St. Paul’s wort).

19.3 Syngenesia Polygamia Frustranea (“same generation, many marriages in vain”), compound flowers formed by several small compact flowers forming a central disk of hermaphrodite flowers surrounded by a ring of neutral flowers, without sexual organs, therefore only the flowers of the disk are fertile and produce seeds: Helianthus (sunflowers), Rudbeckia (black-eyed-susans), Coreopsis (coreopsises), Gorteria (gorterias), Centaurea (knapweeds), Gundelia (gundelia).

1758Linnaeus_syngenesia_polygamia_frustranea

The order Syngenesia Polygamia Frustranea included (from left to right) the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), common black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), lance-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), bachelor’s button (Centaurea montana), gundelia (Gundelia tournefortii). Credits to Frank Mayfield (black-eyed susan), Jean-Pol Grandmont (bachelor’s button), Gundelia (gundelia) and Wikimedia users i_am_jim (sunflower) and KENPEI (coreopsis).*

19.4 Syngenesia Polygamia Necessaria (“same generation, many unavoidable marriages”), compound flowers formed by several small compact flowers forming a central disk of hermaphrodite flowers, but whose feminine part is sterile, surrounded by a ring of fertile feminine flowers, therefore only the flowers of the ring produce seeds: Milleria (millerias), Silphium (rosinweeds), Chrysogonum (golden knees), Melampodium (blackfoots), Calendula (pot marigolds), Arctotis (bear’s ears), Osteospermum (daisybushes), Othonna (othonnas), Polymnia (leafcups), Eriocephalus (snow bushes), Filago (cudweeds), Micropus (cotton seeds), Sphaeranthus (ballflowers).

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These 7 species were included by Linnaeus in the order Syngenesia Polygamia Necessaria (from left to right, top to bottom): starry rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus), common golden knee (Chrysogonum virginianum), common pot-marigold (Calendula officinalis), whiteflower leafcup (Polymnia canadensis), Cape snow bush (Eriocephalus africanus), common cudweed (Filago germanica, now Filago vulgaris), Indian ballflower (Sphaeranthus indicus). Credits to James H. Miller (rosinweed), Fritz Flohr Reynolds (golden knee, leafcup), Wouter Hagens (pot marigold), Juanita Vilas Marchant (snow bush), Wim Rubers (cudweed), Dinnesh Valke (balflower).*

19.5 Syngenesia Monogamia (“same generation, one marriage”), stamens united forming a cylinder, but with single flowers, not forming inflorescences: Seriphium (seriphiums), Corymbium (plampers), Jasione (scabiouses), Lobelia (lobelias), Viola (violets and pansies), Impatiens (balsams).

1758Linnaeus_syngenesia_monogamia

The sheep’s scabious (Jasione montana, left), garden lobelia (Lobelia erinus, center left), common violet (Viola odorata, center right), and garden balsam (Impatiens balsamina, right) were part of the order Syngenesia Monogamia. Credits to André Karwath (lobelia), Bernard Dupont (violet) and Wikimedia users Darkone (scabious) and Joydeep (balsam).*

20. Gynandria (“female husband”)

“Husbands monstruously united to women”, i.e., flowers with stamens united to the pistils.

20.1 Gynandria Diandria (“female husband, two husbands”), two stamens united to the pistils: Orchis (orchids), Satyrium (satyre orchids), Ophrys (fly and bee orchids), Serapias (Serapis orchids), Limodorum (grass pinks), Arethusa (dragon’s mouth and snake’s mouths), Cypripedium (lady’s slippers orchids), Epidendrum (epiphytic orchids).

 

1758Linnaeus_gynandria_diandria

The order Gynandria Diandria included (from left to right, top to bottom) the military orchid (Orchis militaris), fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera), tuberous grass pink (Limodorum tuberosum, now Calopogon tuberosus), dragon’s mouth (Arethusa bulbosa), yellow lady’s slipper (Cypripedium calceolus), spathulate vanda (Epidendrum spathulatum, now Taprobanea spathulata). Credits to Holger Krisp (military orchid, fly orchid), Chris Meloche (dragon’s mouth), and Wikimedia users Algirdas (lady’s slipper) and CyberWikipedian (vanda).*

20.2 Gynandria Triandria (“female husband, three husbands”), three stamens united to the pistils: Sisyrinchium (blue-eyed grasses).

20.3 Gynandria Tetrandria (“female husband, four husbands”), four stamens united to the pistils: Nepenthes (pitcher plants).

20.4 Gynandria Pentandria (“female husband, five husbands”), five stamens united to the pistils: Ayenia (ayenias), Passiflora (passion flowers).

1758Linnaeus_gynandria_triandria_tetrandria_pentandria

The common blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bermudianum, left) was the only member of the order Gynandria Triandria. The distiller pitcher-plant (Nepenthes distillatoria, center) was the only member of the order Gynandria Tetrandria. The purple passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) was one of the members of the order Gynandria Pentandria. Credits to Wouter Hagens (blue-eyed grass), James & Jana Hans (pitcher-plant), Oliver P. Quillia (passion flower).*

20.5 Gynandria Hexandria (“female husband, six husbands”), six stamens united to the pistils: Aristolochia (pipevines), Pistia (water lettuce).

20.6 Gynandria Decandria (“female husband, ten husbands”), ten stamens united to the pistils: Helicteres (screw trees).

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The order Gynandria Hexandria included the smearwort (Aristolochia rotunda, left) and the water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes, center). The order Gynandria Decandria included the Indian screw tree (Helicteres isora, right). Credits to J. M. Garg (screw tree) and Wikimedia users Hectonichus (smearwort) and Keisotyo (water lettuce).*

20.7 Gynandria Polyandria (“female husband, many husbands”), many stamens united to the pistils: Xylopia (xylopias), Grewia (crossberries), Arum (arums), Dracontium (arum yams), Calla (callas), Pothos (pothos), Zostera (eelgrasses).

1758Linnaeus_gynandria_polyandria

The order Gynandria Polyandria included (from left to right) the crossberry (Grewia occidentalis), dragon arum (Arum dracunculus, now Dracunculus vulgaris), elephant-foot yam (Dracontium polyphyllum, now Amorphophallus paeoniifolius), wild calla (Calla palustris) and climbing pothos (Pothos scandens). Credits to P. Pickaert (arum), Kurt Stüber (calla), and Wikimedia users Consultaplantas (crossberry), Fotokannan (yam) and Vinayaraj (pothos).*

As you can see, the class Syngenesia is much more regular than the class Gynandria. Most species of Syngenesia are currently included in the family Asteraceae. Gynandria, on the other hand, includes a variety of unrelated plants, including orchids, arum plants and even passion flowers!

Here we finish all plants with hermaphroditic flowers. We only need to more posts and we will have seen the whole system of Linnaeus!

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References:

Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae per regna tria Naturae…

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Friday Fellow: Chinese Magnolia Vine

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Coming from the forests of Northern China, Korea and Eastern Russia, our newest fellow is a woody vine called Schisandra chinensis and populary known as Chinese magnolia vine.

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The beautiful red fruits of the Chinese magnolia vine. Photo by Vladimir Kosolapov.*

Used in Chinese traditional medicine, the plant is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. The part of the plant most commonly used are the berries, which are known as magnolia berries or five-flavor-fruits. The second name is a translation of the Chinese name, 五味子 (wǔwèizi), because the berry is said to contain all five basic Chinese flavors: salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter. An infusion prepared with the dried fruits is called omija tea or omija-cha, from the Korean name of the fruits.

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A cup of omija tea. Photo by Raheel Shahid.**

The traditional uses of the Chinese magnolia vine included the treatment of disorders related mainly to the sexual organs. Several current studies by laboratory trials indicated that the plant has a large number of beneficial properties, including antioxidant properties and the ability to increase endurance, working ability, accuracy of movements and mental ability. It also seems to be useful in the treatment of several diseases and disorders, especially inflamatory ones, such as sinusitis, otitis, neuritis, dermatitis and gastritis, as well as on some infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia, among many other conditions.

I’m certainly interested in trying a cup of omija tea. What about you? Have you ever had the chance?

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References:

Panossian, A.; Wikman, G. (2008) Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: An overview of Russian research and uses in medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 118(2): 183-212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2008.04.020

Wikipedia. Schisandra chinensis. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schisandra_chinensis >. Access on October 31, 2017.

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