BOTN 201 - Department of Biology - TAMU
Images of the Navasota Flora - 16 April 1995
This plant grows in the stone wall that separates Butler Hall from the Old Chemistry Building. It is Bowlesia incana, one of ca. 14 species of a South American genus. It is not a native texan. Correll and Johnston's Manual to the Vascular Plants of Texas describe this species as 'adventive' in our flora, i.e., an introduced element of the flora that has not become fully 'naturalized' or established. This means that you are unlikely to find B. incana in natural habitats of the Navasota Valley. It is a denizen of the human-modified habitats and therefore an element of the ethnoflora. The plant in this particular habitat reminds one of:
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -- but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
-----------Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1869)
To pursue Tennyson's quest to determine "what you are" we can take a close look and see that Bowlesia shows opposite, simple leaves. This information will not help with the quest in that both characters are atypical for the family. As is often the case, a closer look at the gynoecium shows something useful - epigyny and the classic two-parted (single seed per part) ovary of the Apiaceae. So, not all Umbelliferae have umbels or alternate, compound leaves and it is Bowlesia and other genera (Eryngium, Centella, Hydrocotyle in our flora) that make family descriptions difficult.
This little herb is the most conspicuous weed of the Butler Hall lawn habitat. It is Calyptocarpus vialis, the only species of this central American genus. It is 'preadapted' to be a "troublesome lawn weed" (Correll and Johnston) in that it is a perennial herb "with weak often sprawling stems" that allow the plant to avoid the mower. A close look at the inflorescence reveals the family and, more specifically, the radiate (ray and disc florets) infloresence. A look at this from a side view shows that the phyllaries of Calyptocarpus vialis are reduced to resemble a calyx for this 'pseudoflower' inflorescence.
The Myrtaceae is one of the largest families (3,000 species) of the large order Myrtales (Rosidae). It is, however, not represented in the Texas flora, mainly because of its tropical center of diversity. It is present in the campus flora in the form of Feijoa sellowiana, the 'pineapple guava'. A small group of these epigynous shrubs is growing near the greenhouse at Lubbock and Spence. They show classic floral features of the family and also produce tasty fruits in the fall.
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Last updated by HDW on 18 April 1995