Sunday, May 3, 2009

Phacelia covillei/ Phacelia ranunculacea, Scorpion Weed

Some of the nicest plant discoveries happen when a person is not even botanizing. A few years ago I was walking a farm field in Starke County, Indiana in search of unusual rocks and decided to cut through a small forest to get to the next field. What luck! The forest floor was literally covered by thousands of small plants with tiny blue flowers that I did not recognize. What could be more fun than finding something new – especially when you don’t even know the genus?! I took a few specimens with me and identified it as Phacelia ranunculacea/ P. covillei in the Hydrophyllaceae. I’m not sure I will ever learn to see the subtle differences between the two species. My plants were officially identified as Phacelia covillei by Dr. Michael Vincent of Miami University in Ohio, a leading authority on this plant, and former botany professor of several participants in this blog.

Yesterday I visited a nearby forest (about 3/10 mile away) and found the plant abundant there, as well. It turns out that both species are extremely uncommon the world over.

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PHRA3
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PHCO30

Phacelia covillei, Coville's Phacelia, Coville's Scorpion Weed



2 comments:

Tom said...

Nice Keith, I can relate to the feeling when you find something that gets the botany fever going, like you described. We don't have this one, as you probably know, in Ohio. Our Phacelias are down south and I mostly work in the North, so I've never seen them blooming. Very cool plants.

Keith said...

Hey Tom, most of the new things I find are weeds, so it's a nice change to find a rare native. By the way, thanks very much for helping turn my pictures from bronze to green. Much appreciated!