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7621 Views 15 Replies Last post: Jun 29, 2012 6:10 PM by Mary RSS
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Jun 7, 2012 9:15 PM

Can anyone identify these flowers please?

I am sorry for displaying my ignorance but I would be very grateful if someone could identify these little flowers for me. The flowers grow amongst other wild plants in my garden, and are doing rather well this year. There are two varieties, one very pale pink/white, the other violet. They grow on long, slender but strong stems. Curiously, the nearest leaves, which are an inch or so below the flowers, are simply shaped; but further down on the same stems the leaves have a more complex rounded and lobed form, with a scalloped edge.

The petals also seem to be of two kinds. As viewed from the front the inner petals are rounded. Viewed from the side you can see that they extend back into long cones. Between and just behind these rounded conical petals is a second set of long pointed petals, quite simple and leaf-like in shape, radiating outwards. There don't seem to be any sepals.

My last photo shows both kinds of leaves on the stem of one of the white flowers running down into the bottom right corner. Other photos show different views of the flowers.

I'd be really grateful if someone could tell me the name of these flowers, and the names of related plants, and if possible any other info. 

With thanks in advance, Mary

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    Jun 8, 2012 8:16 AM (in response to Mary)
    Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

    hi, these all are Aquilegia vulgaris, native plant has a simple flowers, you can see more variettes in garden centres ..they easily spread by seed

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      Jun 8, 2012 5:01 PM (in response to Mary)
      Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

      Hi Mary,

      I'll try to answer your questions, if I may...

      Firstly the leaves. Flowering plants often have two forms of leaves, those on the non-flowering parts of the plant and those on the flowering stems or inflorescences. In Aquilegia vulgaris the lower leaves, which are usually referred to as the basal leaves are more complex in shape, as you say, "more complex rounded and lobed form, with a scalloped edge" and also tend to be larger than those further up on the inflorescences. This difference between the basal leaves and the simpler inflorescence leaves means that is always important to look at the lowest leaves possible when identifing a plant in the field, as they can be markedly different not just in size and shape but also in arrangement, e.g. opposite at base but alternate on the inflorescence.

       

      In terms of the relative colour of the leaves - the upper, simpler leaves being darker than the lower basal - leaves in sun will sometimes have two layers of palisade cells containing chloroplasts rather than one.c01991.jpg

      This allows these leaves to harvest as much light energy as possible which compensates for the leaves which are more shaded. This can make the leaves look a darker green. Even if there is only one layer of palisade cells they can be darker simply because they have many more chloroplasts in them than the lower leaves (for the same reason).

       

      The apparent lack of sepals is a much more exciting question for a plant geek like me (especially as I am interested in plant evolution and the driving force that pollinating insects have had on the evolution of floral structures...) In Aquilegia, and it's sister genera Aconitum (Monkshood) and Consolida (Larkspur) - in the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae - the sepals have become petal like and have the same colour as the petals. In addition, in Aquilegia and Consolida, all or one, respectively, of the sepals have developed spurs which secrete nectar at their bases. I have anotated one of your pictures to show these structures.

      Aquilegia.jpg

       

      Some Aquilegia species have very long spurs and tend to be pale, these are predominantely pollinated by moths, http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news-events/press-releases/dramatic-diversity-of-columbine-flowers others have become red and are pollinated by hummingbirds, as seen here, http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/121076/enlarge

       

      They are an interesting genus...

       

      I hope this answers your questions. If you have any further ones do let me know and I'll do my best to answer them too!

       

      Best wishes,

      Jen

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          Jun 25, 2012 11:04 PM (in response to Mary)
          Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

          Hi Mary,

          my apologies for not replying to your questions sooner. I have been away on a field trip with no internet access.

           

          Firstly let me apologise for the confusion regarding sepals and petals in Aquilegia...

           

          Mea culpa! I should have used more than one source for my information. The source I did use, a well regarded British flora, described the spurred organs as sepals. I should have gone to Stace! Especially since I was surprised that the sepals should be so ornate and have nectaries...! I should trust my instincts more!

           

          Never mind, thanks to Episcophagus for setting the record straight.

           

          According to Stace - New Flora of the British Isles, 2nd edition -  the sepals are petal-like and the petals have long spurs with nectaries.

           

          As I am still recovering from a fortnight of field work with 15 students I hope you will forgive me if I delay responding to your further questions for now. I promise to answer them to the best of my abilities (and having triple checked myself and sources of information...! ) in the very near future.

           

          Best wishes,

          Jen

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        Jun 17, 2012 8:57 AM (in response to Jen)
        Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

        Aren't, in the Aquilegia-flower, the spurred segments of the inner whorl of the perianth usually considered "petals" and the flat ones of the outer whorl "sepals"? In the photo one can clearly see how the spurs make their way backwards between the segments of the outer whorl.

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            Jun 17, 2012 7:04 PM (in response to Mary)
            Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

            The flower can be considered as different types of modified leaves. The innermost, the carpels, make the pistil(s), then outside those comes the stamens. Outside these two is the perianth (that which looks like the "flower" - but is the sterile part of it), which often, but not always, can be divided in inner petals and outer sepals (if they don't differ, they are often called tepals). Thus, as the spurred segments are "inside" the flat segments, the former ought to be called petals (and, in the case of Aquilegia, also is in for instance Flora Europaea and other floras that I have).

             

            Quote from Flora Europaea under Aquilegia (part I , p. 238): "Perianth-segments (sepals) 5, petaloid; honey-leves (petals) 5, more or less tubular, each with a flat limb and a backwardly directed nectar-secreting spur."

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              Jun 17, 2012 7:18 PM (in response to Episcophagus)
              Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

              I should add (to lessen the confusion): Under Ranunculaceae Flora Europaea (FE) says: "Perianth sepaloid or petaloid, whorled. Honey-leaves (petaloid structures bearing nectaries) often present, funnel-shaped or petaloid." I.e. FE consider the inner whorl as "honey-leaves" and only the outer as perianth - I don't (compare Nymphaeaceae: "Perianth usually differentiated into sepals and petals").

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                  Jun 19, 2012 10:35 PM (in response to Mary)
                  Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

                  First of all: Flora Europaea is printed on paper - it is THAT old! It is a five volume work completed in the end of the 1970's (or so), and it costed me a fortune in those days when I was a poor student - nowadays I'm only poor. You can't read it on the Internet.

                   

                  Second, and to the subject: As I said in my post above, everything in the flower can be regarded as modified leaves. Innermost you have carpels, the female parts of the flower, in one whorl or more. Outside of those you have stamens, the male parts of the flower (in one whorl or more). And outside of those you have the sterile perianth (in one whorl or more).

                   

                  Leaving the inner fertile whorls aside (these are not completely simple, but we don't care right now), we are left with a perianth. This perianth takes a lot of shapes in different plants. In many ("higher") plants we can easily differentiate between two shapes: sepals and petals. In other (more "primitive") plants we can however not make this simple differentiation. There it is! And there is no such thing as a true petal (or a false), because petals (and sepals) are just definitions of convenience. BUT petals are always inner compared to sepals - however you define them.

                   

                  Hope this helps, and not confuses.

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          Jun 25, 2012 11:06 PM (in response to Episcophagus)
          Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

          Thanks for pointing out my mistake, mea culpa!

          The source I used, a British flora by Rose et al, got it wrong... I should have used Clive Stace's Flora and will do so in future for such information.

          Regards,

          Jen

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      Jun 17, 2012 8:32 AM (in response to Mary)
      Re: Can anyone identify these flowers please?

      I also thank to Jen for thick answer to You, from which I learned few new facts, too..
      Happy exploring of the jungle around Your garden Mary!

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