Plant people…HEEELLLP! Update: mystery solved!
July 20, 2010
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Now that I have your attention…what in the HECK is this????
The plant grows in a small, roundish cluster of stems, and stands about 2 inches off the ground. Each “cup” is about 4 mm across. I found it growing alongside a road, on sand, about 15 feet from a lake. So very cool, and so very weird. I’d love to put a name to it, or at least get an idea of where to start looking.
Your thoughts, oh learned and clever readers?
You guys are gosh-darned awesome!
These great little structures are called “splash cups”…the seeds cradled within get forcibly tossed out when raindrops land in the cup – a fantastically neat method of seed dispersal! The cups belong to a Saxifrage; although there seems to be some debate over the taxonomy of closely related species, it might be safe to label this as Golden Saxifrage (Chrysoplenium tetandrum), which is common to this area. A neat note on this species’ habitat: it is often associated with high loads of animal waste. Indeed, the strip of beachfront where I found these plants was littered with pintail duck poop.
Hm. I feel like I should be awarding points or something here…
5 to Susannah for thinking outside the box
10 to Katie for IDing the seed-dispersing structure correctly
20 to Peter for nailing the plant ID
You may all cash in your points for…um…my undying appreciation.