Genus of the Week
Week of August 17-23
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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.
Visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes,
a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Circaea - Enchanter's Nightshade
Family: Onagraceae - The Evening Primrose Family
Number of Species: Approximately 3
Root: From the Greek "Circe", the enchantress in Homer's Odyssey who charmed men and then
turned them into swine.
Plants in the genus Circaea are distinguished by their tiny two-petaled flowers. Though the
common name suggests it, this genus is not related to the Nightshades of the Solanaceae family. It is thought that the
Greek enchantress Circe used a species in this genus to poison her victims.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Circaea species:
- For those interested in Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Biology, visit the Department of Plant
sciences at the University of Cambridge for an impressive look at the
pollen of C. lutetiana.
- Stop by Columbia River Gorge (in Oregon) for a glimpse of
C. alpina. The Northern Prairie Science Center also has a good
description and line drawing of this species.
- The Berkeley Digital Library has five different photos of
C. alpina ssp. pacifica.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.
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