The other extreme... Silene uralensis

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
The other extreme... Silene uralensis

In contrast with the lush, colourful showiness of Silene acaulis, here is another local (and circumpolar) alpine that pretty much represents the other end of the scale!

Silene uralensis (formerly Lychnis apetala; ssp. attenuata in our area) is nowhere common here (that I know of?), and is a delight to find. Its subtle charm shows a definite flair for understatement! The rocky alpine slope substrate that it prefers is clear from the photos. It ranges in height up to perhaps 10cm (when the seed pods elongate upwards), but those in the rockiest, harshest places are often only ~5 centimeters tall.

So, tell me... Is this a cool plant, or what?? 8) 8)

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

It's a runner-up to your Silene nigrescens.  Indeed a cutie.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

You read my mind!  (Although - a minor point - I find our native species, above,  to be superior, for totally subjective reasons.)  Here is Silene nigrescens, which is native to the Himalayas and China... an interesting little plant with the same modest character as our Silene uralensis.   I'm sure in its natural habitat, it is a smaller, tighter plant than shown, though, as confirmed by the photo at the Holubec site.  (N.B. He is offering seeds, by the way, for those who cannot wait for the next seed exchange or who missed out on the limited amount available:  
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.villevekster.com/Silen...  
Does anyone have other examples to show?  

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Lori, those are indeed the coolest plants!  And I'm a lucky recipient of S. nigrescens from this years NARGS Seedex ;D  It looks great growing in your garden, love those big veiny inflated calyxes.

So, when I saw this posting on Silene uralensis ssp. attenuata, being a circumpolar plant I grabbed my copy of Hulten's Flora of Alaska (1968, 1974 reprint), but couldn't find S. uralensis at first, but then did find it as Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum.  The synonymy cited is:  Wahlbergella apetala var. arctica, Gastrolychnis uralensis, Melandrium soczovianum at least with respect to the Alaskan plant, M. apetalum subsp. attenuatum with respect to the Alaska-Yukon plant, Lychnis soczovianum with respect to Alaskan plant.  Given this plant has such a widespread circumpolar distribution, it is not surprising to see such a degree of synonymy.  

I wonder what the current taxonomic status is, but for some reason the online Flora of North America pages are coming up blank for me today.

There are a couple of related species that look good in Flora of Alaska, all as Melandrium; M. macrospermum (like M. apetalum but flowers are erect), M. affine, and M. triflorum.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I've seen that Melandrium in Greenland and collected seed but none germinated.  I also have nigrescens this year but I don't think there are any real seeds...just a couple of flecks of chaff!  :'(

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I think I got two or three good seeds via NARGS, along with other flecks.  This year like last, our chapter also helped with a bit of the seed packaging.  I have to say, it is a learning experience in itself, seeing the different seeds, the chaff and the unfilled seed shells of different species.

Mark, is your arborescent crocus related to my avatar?  It looks a little scary too.  :o

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

RickR wrote:

Mark, is your arborescent crocus related to my avatar?  It looks a little scary too.  :o

Heya Rick, yeah the Crocus grow really big around here.  Not as scary as your Audrey II in your little shop though  ;D ;D ;D

By the way, if you reload your avatar pic, it is now constrained at 80 pixels versus the previous 65 pixels = a larger avatar, thanks to web master Hugh :D !

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Boland wrote:

I also have nigrescens this year but I don't think there are any real seeds...just a couple of flecks of chaff!  :'(

I'll set some real seeds aside for you this summer, Todd... assuming I don't kill the plant or anything in the meantime.  Hope they grow well for you, Rick and Mark.

More interesting reading...
http://www.mun.ca/biology/delta/arcticf/car/www/casiur.htm

So, does this ITIS report say that Melandrium is the current genus name (for that ssp., at least) or that it is Silene?  The bit about "not accepted - synonym" is causing me to become deeply confused.
http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_...

Note the new avatar, by the way... that's me.  You should be able to recognize me anywhere now.  ;D

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Lori, that first link is terrific, a good account of this highly confusing taxonomic entity.  But of course, it is inconclusive regarding the final "say" on the species determination.  I have pulled out of that discussion a link to a particularly charming photo of the subject Silene/Melandrium:
http://www.mun.ca/biology/delta/arcticf/images/b0880096.jpg

So we move onto your second link (I have bookmarked this site, thanks).  The way I read it, it is indeed stating the accepted name is Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum.  Going down through the page, I think it is saying there can be one or more accepted names, then gives the status of that name(s), and it is not accepted thus a synonym, it becoming a reference for Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum, which matches the document title.  I have probably just confused you more :o

Overall document title is:  Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum  (Fries) Hultén

Accepted Name(s): Silene uralensis ssp. uralensis (Rupr.) Bocquet
Taxonomic Status:     
Current Standing: not accepted - synonym 

Reference for: Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

McDonough wrote:

So we move onto your second link (I have bookmarked this site, thanks).  The way I read it, it is indeed stating the accepted name is Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum.  Going down through the page, I think it is saying there can be one or more accepted names, then gives the status of that name(s), and it is not accepted thus a synonym, it becoming a reference for Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum, which matches the document title.  I have probably just confused you more :o

Overall document title is:  Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum  (Fries) Hultén

Accepted Name(s): (Rupr.) Bocquet
Taxonomic Status:      
Current Standing: not accepted - synonym  

Reference for: Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum

Actually, I believe it's saying the opposite... That the accepted name is Silene uralensis ssp. uralensis, and that Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum is a synonym that is not accepted currently.

If you go the following site (ITIS) and do a search on Melandrium, it says (I believe) that Melandrium is a valid genus name but it's usage as "Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum" is outdated/"not accepted".
http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt
(Unfortunately, it doesn't work to post the results of such a search, so one actually has to go to the site, select "Scientific Name" and type in "Melandrium".)

If you do the same for Silene uralensis, you will see the accepted names.  (Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum is not shown.)
http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt

Here are the ITIS reports for Silene uralensis:
http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_...
http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_...

Anyway, putting it all together, that's how I read it -  that Silene uralensis and Silene uralensis ssp. uralensis are the current names.

And if so, then I don't have to change all my records!  :D

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

You're probably a better sleuth than I am, so Silene uralensis ssp. uralensis it is.  But rest assured, by this time next year, it'll probably be Melandrium apetalum ssp. arcticum  ;D ;D  Regardless of the name, it's a charming plant.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Pages

Log in or register to post comments