Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spigelia gentianoides var. alabamensis

I am loving this Spigelia gentianoides var. alabamensis.  This exceedingly rare variety of an exceptionally rare species hails from the Ketona Dolomite glades in Alabama.  This stupendously biodiversity rich area was discovered only in the mid-1990's, and contains many endemic species that are both botanically and horticulturally interesting plant species. 

The Alabama variety of this species is segregated from the typical form because the corolla lobes (petals at the tips of the tube) reflex, or open, there are more flowers per inflorescence, and differences in vegetative characters.  The flowers open in the late afternoon, presumably so pollinating insects can enter.   As night falls, the flowers close, and may trap potential pollinators.  This is purely speculation on my behalf, but it should be known that virtually nothing has been published about the pollination biology of this species.

Supposedly this species is self-fertile and I am attempting to generate some seed production through hand-pollination.  This is a dainty plant, reaching about 10 inches in height.  It could be a fantastic rock garden plant and symbol of U.S. native plant conservation.

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