Growing Wishbones


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Wishbone bush blooms between Dec. The old sepals collapse on top of the ovary and persist on the developing fruit like a little beanie. The fruit is mottled green when young, aging to dull, dark brown which is sometimes marked with pale stripes. It is a plant of lower elevations, most common in deserts, on rocky slopes and on sandy soils in coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grasslands and oak woodlands below feet.

In California, it is found from the coast to the desert, primarily in the southern half of the state. In the Reserve, wishbone bush is most easily seen in Holmwood Canyon where patches may be seen on the west-facing slopes and plants occasionally occur along the trail. A small patch, maybe a single plant, grows through the trailside vegetation near the Santa Carina trailhead.

Torenia - University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

This is a small family but classification within the family is difficult and several taxonomic systems have been proposed. The sepals are united into a tube and are often brightly colored, taking the role of petals; modified leaves, or bracts , are often associated with a flower cluster. The structure of the fruit is unique to this family, and the seed may produce mucilage when wetted.

The genus Mirabilis is the largest genus in the family, with ten species in California. These are set apart from other genera in this family in part by the capitate stigma and in part by characteristics of the bracts below each flower involucral bracts.

Torenia Origins

The systematics of this species is difficult. Currently, the species is an amalgam of poorly differentiated forms, some of which were previously described as individual species. The wishbone bush in the Reserve is var. Variety crassifolia is most common in coastal southern California. Wishbone bush is a member of a small subset of flowering plants that bloom mainly at night. The wishbone bush opens during mid to late afternoon and closes again the following morning, depending on what time the sun emerges.

It is primarily pollinated by night-flying insects. The white-lined sphinx moth Hyles lineata , a common sphinx moth in the Reserve, has been specifically mentioned. Just above the eucalyptus was an eye-catching display of bright magenta flowers. Similar magenta patches could be seen on the west-facing hill above the trail. Anxious to identify and photograph this plant, I returned as soon as possible, shortly after lunch on a sunny day three days later.

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There was not a single magenta flower in sight! The numerous systematic changes make it difficult to accurately determine many historical uses of this plant.

This is a subject that very quickly gets complicated and way over my head. Expression of group A characterizes sepals while a combination of groups A and C are necessary for petals.

By determining which group or combination of groups is active, scientists can identify the structures of a flower. But at least I am satisfied that there is a scientific basis behind this determination. What are you looking for? Search for: Submit. Notify me of new posts by email.

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And Other Stories has a pretty damn good lookalike.

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