Friday, April 5, 2013

Family Breakup

 Found a big patch of recently-bloomed Johnny Tuck today at the side of the road in East Quincy by Abernathy Lane.  Down in the lower canyon and around Chico people know these as Butter and Eggs.  When I first learned about them they were included in the Family Scrofulariaceae.  In most field guides it is commonly known as the Figwort Family, but I have often called it the Snapdragon family because it included Snapdragons and most people are familiar with cultivated ones.  However, recently botanists have broken up the Family Scorphulariaceae into a few new families and moved some of its members to other already-existing families.  So, if you look up Johnny Tuck, or Triphysaria eriantha, depending on the age of the field guide or other source, you might run into a confusion of names.  My most up-to-date field guide places Johnny Tuck in the Family Orobanchaceae.  I'm trying to train myself to stop calling it Butter and Eggs because there is another flower in our area that goes by that name.  I flipped a coin.  By the way, the name 'scrophulariaceae' derives from the Latin word 'scrofa' which means pig.  Etymologies are fun.
 Here's a repeat of the Blue-eyed Mary I posted a couple of days ago.  Now blooming around Quincy, this too used to be a member of the Scrophulariaceae, but has been moved to the Family Plantaginaceae as have many other genera.  The binomial remains the same, however.  It's Collinsia sparsiflora.  And the flower is pretty sparse, only around 1/4" wide.
 The Monkeyflowers, Genus Mimulus, I thought would be one group that would remain in the family because they so closely resemble the Snapdragons.  The species above is the most common one in roadside ditches around Quincy and is Mimulus guttatus.  However, it's been moved to a new family.  I hope it's happy.  Family Phrymaceae. 
I've only seen one specimen of this little blue beauty, and it was in a planter box in front of a Quincy business, hiding in a dense patch of Miner's Lettuce.  It's American Brooklime, Veronica americana.  This species has lots of color variations.  Some have only blue petals, for instance.  Another former member of the Scrophulariaceae, it is now in the Family Plantaginaceae. 
Only a few species of local wildflowers remain in the Family Scrophulariaceae, and I'll feature them when they start blooming.  My favorite is the familiar Wooly Mullein.  Newly emerging leaves of Mullein were featured here last week, but it will be at least another month before they bloom.  They are a bienniel, so when they bloom you know they are in their second year.

1 comment:

  1. As a kid growing up around Oroville and Table Mountain, we used to call the vast patches of Johnny Tuck "Scrambled Eggs" - never heard it called Butter and Eggs until many years later. Always a good sign that spring had sprung!

    - P. Russell