San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department

San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department Adventures with the native and naturalized plants of southern California and the Baja California peninsula!
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Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
06/30/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
06/18/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
06/08/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
06/02/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Observations of the Month: Coville’s and Cleveland’s Lip Ferns (Pteridaceae)Coville’s Lip Fern (Myriopteris covillei) ht...
05/24/2021
Coville's Lip Fern (Myriopteris covillei)

Observations of the Month: Coville’s and Cleveland’s Lip Ferns (Pteridaceae)
Coville’s Lip Fern (Myriopteris covillei) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/37466571 by acorncap
Cleveland’s Lip Fern (Myriopteris clevelandii) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/71342268 by chloe_and_trevor
Ferns are “primitive” plants. So you might think that you don’t need to take as many photos of a fern as you do of a flowering plant to capture important identifying characteristics. But that’s not usually the case. Ideally, when you create an observation for iNaturalist, you would take 4 or 5 photos of a fern, just as you would of a flowering plant. With no flowers or fruits to focus on, you may be wondering what parts of a fern you should photograph. Take a photo of the fern as a whole to show its habit (growth form and general appearance). A photo of the upper surface of a leaf (blade or frond) showing its overall shape and arrangement and shape of leaflets (segments) and presence or absence of hairs or other structures. A photo of the lower surface of a leaf to show the color of the lower surface (it’s helpful to have the upper surface of an adjacent leaf in the same photo to give contrast). A second photo of the lower surface as close-up as needed to clearly show the structures found there (e.g., sori, hairs, scales). Be sure to have a finger, ruler, or other object in at least one photo to show scale.
Coville’s Lip Fern and Cleveland’s Lip Fern look similar from a distance. With only one photo taken at a distance, it will likely be impossible to decide which of these species is represented. The location in our county can help since there is only a little overlap in the distributional range. Cleveland’s is found closer to the coast and inland up into the mountains where Coville’s is also found. Coville’s continues down the eastern slopes of the mountains and into some parts of our desert. Both species are often found growing in rocky areas. The upper surfaces of the fronds in both species are green and have no hairs although often the scales from the underside are readily visible on the upper side especially in Coville’s. Both have scales on the underside, but a close-up view of the scales will make all the difference in helping to determine which species it is. The scales on the underside of Coville’s are wider, obscure the surface, and exceed the margins. The scales on the underside of Cleveland’s are not as wide or as dense and are less likely to exceed the margins. By the way, if you look for the sori on the underside of a Myriopteris fern blade as I did and can’t find any, it’s because they are usually hidden under the recurved margins in this genus.
Taking multiple photos of ferns to show different characteristics will make it more likely that the species in your iNat observation can be determined. Visit http://www.sdplantatlas.org/ for resources to help you identify ferns and other plants.

Coville's lip fern from San Diego, Cleveland National Forest, California, United States on December 18, 2019 at 02:32 PM by Lauren

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
05/21/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
05/14/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
04/22/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Observations of the Month: Stinging Nettles (Urticaceae)Dwarf Nettle (Urtica urens) https://www.inaturalist.org/observat...
04/20/2021

Observations of the Month: Stinging Nettles (Urticaceae)

Dwarf Nettle (Urtica urens)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/70230358 by andyjones1

Hoary Nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/54278783 by docprt

Western Nettle (Hesperocnide tenella)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/42434757 by kmerrill

The plants featured this month are armed with specialized hairs filled with an irritating chemical solution which can be injected into the skin of unsuspecting observers who touch the stems or leaves. This group of plants have opposite leaves that are toothed. Their flowers are not showy: they have no petals and are small. All three plants prefer moist soils and can be found in much of the county, excluding the desert. Despite their similarities, you can tell these nettles apart by several characteristics.

Unlike the other two, Dwarf Nettle is an introduced species from Europe. It is an annual which is often found in disturbed areas, parks, and gardens, and grows only to about 2 feet in height. Dwarf Nettle has clustered flowers arising from leaf axils, projecting only a short distance away from the stem (usually less than the length of the leaf’s petiole) which may appear as early as January until about April. It is the most common of the three and can be found from the coast inland to an elevation of about 3,200 feet.

Hoary Nettle is a native perennial found in moist meadows and along the edges of streams, lakes, and other waterways. In addition to its stinging hairs, Hoary Nettle may have dense soft non-stinging hairs on its stems and the underside of leaves. It is a much larger plant than the other two nettles, growing from about 3 to 10 feet tall. Its leaves are larger and often folded along the midvein. The flowers of Hoary Nettle are more loosely arranged as a spike or panicle, extending from the stem often as far as the leaf tips, and are usually present from about June to September. Although it can be found in coastal San Diego, Hoary Nettle is more common in our mountains, and is the only one of the three to regularly occur above 3,500 feet.

Western Nettle is the least common of the three and perhaps the most distinctive, with stems that are often red and leaves that are adorned with black dots at the base of the stinging hairs and rounded teeth. Its flowers are arranged in spherical clusters close to the stem and are present from about February to June. This native annual is the smallest of the three, growing to about 18 inches tall. It is often found in shaded areas, such as at the base of rocks or shrubs. It is found from the coast to the foothills, including at elevations somewhat higher than Dwarf Nettle, but not as high as Hoary Nettle.

Be sure to visit the San Diego County Plant Atlas website (www.sdplantatlas.org) to find additional resources to help you identify the Stinging Nettles and other plants.

Our SDNHM Curator of Botany, Dr. Jon Rebman, is giving a general talk tomorrow for the Cactus & Succulent Society of Ame...
03/19/2021

Our SDNHM Curator of Botany, Dr. Jon Rebman, is giving a general talk tomorrow for the Cactus & Succulent Society of America entitled "Baja California: botanical research and succulent diversity" that is open to the public. Feel free to join if you have the time and interest in this topic!

CSSA Webinar Saturday, March 20th at 10:00 am PDT
Jon Rebman: The Flora of Baja California.

Everyone is welcome:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QSceFHcpQamRhmw2ZTAPRg

The Baja California peninsula and its adjacent islands support a wealth of species diversity in many different plant families. There are approximately 4400 different plants, of which 26% are from (endemic to) the region.

Dr. Rebman has been involved in various expeditions to remote parts of the Baja California region and its adjacent islands. During these trips, some significant botanical discoveries have been made that impact our knowledge of the plants in these regions and provide us with new ideas on plant biogeography in desert areas of our region.

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post
03/01/2021

Photos from San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department's post

Tree To***co (Nicotiana glauca)Potato/Nighshade Family (Solanaceae)Family info: Solanaceae: The family Solanaceae includ...
02/09/2021

Tree To***co (Nicotiana glauca)

Potato/Nighshade Family (Solanaceae)

Family info: Solanaceae: The family Solanaceae includes approximately 75 genera and 3000 species with a worldwide distribution, especially diverse in tropical regions of South America. Members of the Solanaceae are herbs, shrubs, trees, or vines with usually alternate, simple or compound leaves, and typically small, whitish flowers arranged in a panicle that produce a capsule or drupe. The family contains many economically important members, including edible species such as peppers (Capsicum), tomatoes (Lycopersicon), and potatoes (Solanum); species with drugs like to***co (Nicotiana) with ni****ne or Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) with atropine; and garden ornamentals such as petunias (Petunia). Alkaloids are present in many species in this family and some species are deadly poisonous or contain known carcinogens.

Genus info: The genus Nicotiana contains approximately 60 species, mostly in the Americas, of annual or perennial herbs or shrubs to small trees with alternate, mostly simple leaves. The flowers have funnel-shaped to salverform corollas with 5 stamens and produce dehiscent (splitting) capsules that contain many small, angled seeds. Most species have ill-smelling herbage and indigenous peoples reportedly smoked some species. The entire genus is poisonous to some degree and contains economically important species such as the to***cos of commerce (N. tabacum and N. rusticum) and various garden ornamentals. Six species of Nicotiana are known to occur in San Diego County. The genus name is from J. Nicot, who supposedly introduced to***co to Europe.

Species info: Tree To***co is an introduced w**d from northwestern Argentina and southern Bolivia that has naturalized in many habitats throughout our region and in other warm regions of the world. It is a glabrous, erect, sparsely branched shrub or small tree to 5 m tall with 5–16 cm long ovate, bluish-green, glaucous leaves. The tubular, cylindric, yellow to yellow-green flowers are 3–4 cm long and bloom throughout the year. The fruit is an ovoid capsule, that dehisces with 4 valves releasing many reddish-brown seeds. It is sometimes seen planted around houses, furnishing meager shade but requiring little care or water. Tree To***co attracts hummingbirds but repels livestock and is deadly to insects. This species has been used to treat rheumatism. The entire plant, especially the leaves, contains anabasine, a close relative of ni****ne, and has caused poisonings and even deaths to humans. The specific epithet glauca is from Greek and means "bluish-gray," and refers to the thin waxy layer or whitish powder (bloom) that is found on some plant parts, especially the leaves. This species is native to South America, but has naturalized extensively in the southwestern and southeastern USA, Mexico, Africa, and the Mediterranean region.

Here are some pics taken by SDNHM Curator of Botany, J. Rebman, in January 2021 in a couple of our local urban canyons i...
02/06/2021

Here are some pics taken by SDNHM Curator of Botany, J. Rebman, in January 2021 in a couple of our local urban canyons in San Diego. There is a lot of native botanical diversity in these canyons between neighborhoods and also many non-native plants that have naturalized there.

Crystalline Iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)Fig-Marigold Family (Aizoaceae)Family info: Aizoaceae: The well-know...
01/27/2021

Crystalline Iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)
Fig-Marigold Family (Aizoaceae)

Family info: Aizoaceae: The well-known leaf-succulent family Aizoaceae is represented in our region primarily by exotics known as iceplants (Mesembryanthemum and Carpobrotus spp.). However, a few native species, such as in the genera Sesuvium and Trianthema can be found in San Diego County. The large and diverse Fig-Marigold family contains 130 genera and approximately 2500 species worldwide, but in our County only 17 species have been documented and most of these have escaped from cultivation and are native to southern Africa. The dry, dehiscent fruits of many species in this family respond to moisture and are closed when dry, but during wet conditions they open to release the seeds. The showy, linear, petal-like structures found in the flower of many members of this family are actually staminodes (modified and sterile stamens of the flower).

Genus info: According to Michael Charters website (http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageMA-ME.html) on plant names for California the genus name is “either derived from (1) two words: mesos, "middle," and embryon, "fruit," indicating a flower with its fruit in the middle, and/or (2) afternoon-blooming. The original name was Mesembrianthemum, from mesembria or "mid-day" alluding to the belief that the species only bloomed in the sunlight. After night-blooming species were discovered, the spelling of the name was changed to its current form”. Some of these naturalized exotics are very aggressive w**ds, such as the widespread, annual species of Mesembryanthemum, which can take over large tracts of disturbed habitat and accumulate and release salts into the soil, thus eliminating other plants from growing in the area.

Species info: Crystalline Iceplant is a nonnative, low-growing annual or biennial with succulent, ovate to spatulate leaves to 20 cm long that are covered with large bladdery cells. These inflated cells give the plant a glistening appearance, like ice covering its surface, hence the common name “iceplant.” When stressed or with age, the whole plant commonly turns reddish in coloration; this can be seen easily in some coastal flats or beaches in our County where this species has invaded en masse. Crystalline Iceplant occurs mostly on the immediate coast in our region, but occasionally it occurs further inland in disturbed, saline habitats.

Observation of the Month: Alligatorw**d (Alternanthera philoxeroides) Amaranthaceaehttps://www.inaturalist.org/observati...
01/19/2021
Alligatorw**d (Alternanthera philoxeroides)

Observation of the Month: Alligatorw**d (Alternanthera philoxeroides) Amaranthaceae
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/58476888 by chrysaetos

It’s on the official list of California noxious w**ds, so the discovery of Alligatorw**d (Alternanthera philoxeroides) in San Diego County was not welcome news. The observation posted by Jorge Ayon (@chrysaetos) a few months ago brought the plant to the attention of Jon Rebman and with Jorge’s assistance, he obtained a voucher specimen to confirm the identification and document the plant’s presence in our county. Early detection of invasive species such as Alligatorw**d is important to allow land managers to gain control of the population before it grows to the point where it cannot be eradicated locally and before it spreads to other locations.

Alligatorw**d can form dense floating mats when it invades lakes, ponds, streams, and irrigation ditches. It is native to South America. According to Cal-IPC, it was introduced in California when it was previously used in the aquarium trade. Efforts are underway to eradicate it in the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Delta areas.

The leaves of Alligatorw**d are elliptic, less than an inch wide and 5 inches long, and are opposite with entire margins. The inflorescence is spherical about ½ inch in diameter with papery white flowers. Outside its native range, Alligatorw**d is not known to produce seeds, but it still reproduces and spreads very easily by vegetative fragments.

Alligatorw**d from Lower Otay Lake, Jamul, CA, US on September 03, 2020 at 07:07 PM by chrysaetos

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Comments

Of course you want to know what wildflowers you found in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and surrounding area. We have a great website with high-resolution photos. https://borregowildflowers.com Use our iOS or Android app as off-line field guide. https://borregowildflowers.com This app is intended for the casual flower user and experienced botanist alike. Find plants by color, common name, scientific name or family name. The app includes keys, descriptions and many photo's of plant details.
Good work, Jon, John, and Jose! And thank you National Geographic, for your support of basic field work!