March 24, 2023

Arctium in the Northeastern US -- what I've learned so far

Bottom line up front: It would help narrow the IDs of Arctium in the northeastern US if we would 1) measure the involucre when present 2) photograph a cross section of a lower petiole to show if hollow or solid 3) get a good photo showing the structure of the inflorescence

BONAP lists three species in the northeast

Flora of North America:
Arctium lappa
Arctium minus
Arctium tomentosum

Per the FNA Arctium key linked above, both lappa and tomentosum have corymbose inflorescences . In fruit, they might be distinguished by measuring the size of the fruit? BONAP has the range of tomentosum in the northeastern US as much more limited than that of lappa. This key makes no mention of petiole laxity, leaf shape, or stem grooves.

Go Botany:
Arctium lappa
Arctium minus
Arctium tomentosum

This key mentions petiole laxity and leaf shape as distinguishing features, noting that lappa has weakly angled petioles and acute leaf apices.

Newcomb's Wildflower Guide lists lappa and minus only. It distinguishes the species by size of flower heads, length of stalks ("long" or "short"), petioles solid or hollow, and noting that lappa's petioles are "deeply grooved."

Clemants and Gracie lists only lappa and minus. It notes that "the major differences between [lappa and minus] are the inflorescence type and the size of the heads." It refers to the lappa inflorescence as "flat topped," but the photo shows a corymb with flowers at different levels.

"Wildflowers of New England" by Elliman notes that petioles of lappa and minus are "usually" solid or hollow, respectively. It distinguishes leaf size and shape, as well as structure of inflorescence, length of petioles, and size of flower and fruit. It does not cover tomentosum.

Royer and Dickinson "Weeds of the Northern US and Canada" cover all three species. It differentiates the three based on flower head size, the presence of hairs on bracts in tomentosum, and one more feature not found elsewhere: they state that at maturity, lappa's outer bracts spread and release seeds, but minus bracts do not spread and release seeds at maturity. Confusingly, this reference states that minus is used for food, while all other references indicate that lappa is the burdock most often cultivated.

"Peterson's Wildflowers Northeastern/North Central North America" has all three. In addition to flower stalk length, inflorescence structure, and size of bur, it mentions that lower leaves of minus have unfurrowed stalks, and lower leaves of lappa of groove on upper surface of stalks.

Posted on March 24, 2023 01:37 PM by peakaytea peakaytea | 4 comments | Leave a comment

February 18, 2023

Xanthium in the Northeastern US -- what I've learned so far

I set out this week to learn to differentiate the Xanthium species found in the Northeastern US. As is often the case, the job turned out to be more difficult than expected.

First, taxonomy of Xanthium is complicated and in a state of flux. For a feel of how this has played out in iNat curation decisions about taxonomy, visit the curation flag notes seen here

That said, the curator has set up six species, all of which are found in GBIF. Of the six, four are noted by GBIF to be found in Northeastern North America: these are X. echinatum, X. orientale, X. spinosum, and X. strumarium. These have, on iNat, 1, 178, 418, and 19645 observations, respectively.

Now, in contrast, only two of those species are listed in FNA. Those two, strumarium and spinosum, are also listed in Calflora, CONABIO, Natureserve, and Naturewatch NZ. FNA notes, "Tremendous disagreement exists as to the number of species to recognize." FNA folds echinatum into spinosum, but notes that doing so has its arguments against the approach. FNA folds orientale into strumarium.

And so, first, it is not correct to say that these four species listed in the iNat database do not occur in New England. All four aren't reflected in FNA because you have to read the species description in the book to find they are folded into other species based on a decision about how to handle the taxonomy.

So, how do we ID the species?

Go Botany's dichotomous key lets you separate strumarium from spinosum. This link provides info on separating strumarium from orientale I don't have enough Dutch to look at the source material. (I have "Good morning" and "Jump there" and "cheese" and "pancake")

I look forward to reading other thoughts..



Posted on February 18, 2023 09:23 PM by peakaytea peakaytea | 2 comments | Leave a comment


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