Systematics of Hydrophylloideae (Boraginaceae)

Posts tagged “Phacelia

floral diagram


plants are so defensive

In such interesting and painful ways. I’ve developed a sensitivity to the plants I study, and I don’t mean an appreciation for them. I mean that I react to exposure. Contact dermatitis haptens, yo.

The eglandular hairs of Boraginaceae are irritating, in the field and in the herbarium. The only good thing is that the stinging hairs aren’t urticating hairs, and don’t inject pain.  So I can tell when I get a handful of Urtica dioica as opposed to Phacelia malvifolia or Phacelia nemoralis. The hairs are solid and break off and stay in my skin, and then I get itchy bumps.





The glandular hairs are a different irritating issue. I respond strongly to urushiol (Toxicodendron diversilobum) too, and  sometimes it is really difficult to tell if the delayed contact dermatitis came from exposure to poison oak or glandular Hydrophylloideae taxa (like Phacelia pedicellata, Phacelia parryi, Phacelia crenulata, Phacelia minor, Phacelia campanularia…). Here is a pro-tip, NEVER ROLL AROUND IN A FIELD OF PHACELIA CRENULATA. It looks really pretty, but Phacelia crenulata smells like Phacelia crenulata, and then you will smell like Phacelia crenulata, and you have geranylhydroquinone everywhere.




so pretty. so shiny.


REYNOLDS, G. W., W. L. EPSTEIN, and E. RODRIGUEZ. 1986. Unusual contact allergens from plants in the family Hydrophyllaceae. Contact dermatitis 14(1):39-44.

REYNOLDS, G., and E. RODRIGUEZ. 1979. Geranylhydroquinone: A contact allergen from trichomes of Phacelia crenulata. Phytochemistry 18(9):1567-1568.

cake. cake. cakecakecake.

We published our paper.

Walden, G. K., L. M. Garrison, G. S. Spicer, F. W. Cipriano, and R. Patterson. 2014. Phylogenies and chromosome evolution of Phacelia (Boraginaceae: Hydrophylloideae) inferred from nuclear ribosomal and chloroplast sequence data. Madroño 61(1):16–47. [BioOne].


I love cake. This is my favorite. I was five.

Eutoca multiflora Douglas ex Lindley

Via the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the Missouri Botanical Garden, Peter H. Raven Library. Eutoca multiflora Douglas ex Lindley, Botanical Register [Bot. Reg.] 14: tab. 1180. 1828. “A hardy annual, of great beauty, … resembling some small Echium in appearance”

Eutoca multiflora Douglas ex Lindley_just a taste

Phacelia sp., what is it?

I didn’t collect a voucher because I didn’t have a permit, and because all I saw was the one plant. It was so weird and I stared at it for an hour and all I wanted to do was kill it for history and it has haunted me for years. It keys out as one currently accepted entity, and can kind of sort of fit a few possible characteristics of the synonyms, but not in any satisfying way, because it really isn’t any of them, and it is so obviously different, you know? I would just like a good way to make sure. Using the SCIENCE. I have seen a couple of photos similar on the internetz, so if you see something that looks like this plant out in the drought fields, make a duplicate voucher and send it my way. Or not, and describe a new species yourself. I will thank you either way, because then there will be an answer. And it will have a name.




there are clouds of flowers

cloud flowers

Peter H. Raven’s got my back, yo



39th Annual Southern California Botanists Symposium

39th Annual Southern California Botanists Symposium: Origin and Relationships of the California Flora: Was Raven Ravin’? Program PDF link here. Thanks very much to the Southern California Botanists for their incredible generosity for the invitation and for hosting me. They took care of everything, and organized a truly delightful weekend.

Slides [abbreviated and annotated] from my talk titled ‘The problem of being common (Phacelia sect. Ramosissimae)’. The order of slides starts at the top of this post and scrolls down. These are low res jpgs for web viewing, so high res pdfs are available also by request. Any questions about methods or details please contact me.

















heaven knows


Drought year

Scouted most of the Phacelia peirsoniana paratype localities [here, Sherwin Summit with Jim Linnberg and Trigger the service dog] and accessible Consortium of California Herbaria specimen sites on this trip based out of UC SNARL. Love that place. Too dry in some places for some of the target species I was looking for [also looked for Phacelia tetramera out on alkali sinks], but there are patches of blooms where precipitation seems to have struck and stuck.

A really good trip, and I wish I could have stayed out another week at least. Next year I hope it rains, and I can go in April and again in May to catch these taxa.

This was also the first trip I had an iPhone and definitely prefer my Nikon for photos. But for planning out a daily botany  itinerary with the Jepson eFlora, Consortium of California Herbaria search results, Google maps, and CalPhotos – I used that iphone nonstop when there was areas with service. Tom Schweich’s area list for Mono County is AWESOME – full of great resources, as is Tim Messick’s Bodie Hills flora.


Phacelia [?] var. heliophila

This is why I love nomenclature, I love taxonomy, I love collections, I love digitized archives and libraries offsite, and I love going to the field and finding plants that match protologues. Because even in California, even in 2013, even in Phacelia, there are mysteries and there is disagreement. What is this? I have an idea, but I have to rigorously test it. Stay tuned [and on botany time, so 3+ yrs for data collection, analysis, and publication].

This is why I love nomenclature, I love taxonomy, I love collections, I love digitized archives and libraries offsite, and I love going to the field and finding plants that match protologues. Because even in California, even in 2013, even in Phacelia, there are mysteries and there is disagreement. What is this? I have an idea, but I have to rigorously test it. Stay tuned [and on botany time, so 3+ yrs for data collection, analysis, and publication].

Submission feels so good

It does. It really does.


Cal Photo of the Day – Phacelia viscida

The UC Berkeley homepage photo of the day [by Martin Sundberg] highlights the super cool work of the Gordon Frankie lab and the Urban Bee Gardens.

Their awesome research is expanding the applied uses and economic utility of Phacelia taxa in agriculture and apiculture.

And what’s that in the foreground? Phacelia viscida!


Nomenclature of subdivisions in Phacelia

The new issue is online [Madroño 59(4)] and our paper is published! I am looking forward to getting back home to read it and the other articles in the new issue. Thanks to everyone for their patience and support for all the research and writing, I will be sending reprints your way.


WALDEN, G. K., and R. PATTERSON. 2012. Nomenclature of subdivisions in Phacelia (Boraginaceae). Madroño 59(4):211-222.


Abstract link

Full text [with subscription]

One month to go!

The Jepson Workshop to the White Mountains is coming up  and I am excited to revisit the area again. I had a chance to go on the 2009 Workshop and it was amazing. Of course. There was snow, there were bristlecones, and of course there were phacelias.

Driving In A July Snow Storm


Morning coffee and rain and phacelias



factoids of fun

I made this a while back, as I was thinking about different ways to present some of the little stories that have accumulated through all this research in the genus and subfamily. I believe that alternative ways to tell these stories are really nice to have throughout the progress of the research [research does progress, it really does]. I’m thinking more like mini-graphic zines of the Small Science Collective [really cool] for a single narrative.

Dichotomous key of fun Phacelia factoidsAnd maybe some die-cut stickers in the future.

Botany is best!





Field Notebooks

Michael Eisen wrote a blog post last year noting a super amazing inclusion of the digitized lab notebooks as part of the supplemental materials [Lang and Botstein 2011]. My lab work has somewhat been on pause with classes [IS290 and IB200A] and studying for orals this semester, but come the end of April – I am going to do this with my lab notebooks as I progress through experiments in the Baldwin genomics lab and the MPL.

Along that vein, I will also put up my field notebooks from this year, probably the whole notebook at the end of the season, and additional notes from individual collection events posted as updates inside posts – this one includes the corolla dissections and sketches of ovules. And yes, after upload I realized that penciled drawings don’t scan as well as inked illustrations – so will keep that in mind for the future.


Phacelia californica GKW365 collection notes

Posting my field notebooks serves as part organization, part transparency, part scholarship, part archival, part communication, part trying to be a better practitioner of science. I also believe that creating a clear link between the collection event and the accessioned specimen may motivate me to decrease the time between collection and accession, which can contribute to the lag time in species descriptions – not that I am collecting anything new [Bebber et al. 2010].

I benefit so much from reading the online digitized field notebooks of Willis Linn Jepson, Reid Moran and others [the Smithsonian has an entire Field Book Project - AMAZING, go look at it], and visiting archives to read field notebooks of the Cantelows and John Thomas Howell at California Academy of Sciences. Other archives I really would like to visit are those of Marcus E. Jones, because Parry stole my rose [Dorst 2010; Jones 1930].

The field season is slower this year due to drought and next year will be my big field year, but there are still opportunities to describe some of the field diversity in a group like the [mostly Californian] Ramosissimae, which includes Phacelia distans and Phacelia malvifolia. I have been really inspired by the amazing scientific illustrations that John Myers has been doing for the FNANM treatment, and Dr. Strother also encouraged me [in the words of Terry Allen] to practice drawing. I limned the basics from the Phacelia californica that I collected for the Jepson Manual 101 clinic, and pressed the voucher in my Herbarium Supply plant press. I am always interested in best practices for collecting specimens and making vouchers [see one of M.E.Jones writings on collecting here], and not just because it is part of the IS290 class project for the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden!

Plant Press with Parachute Straps of Fire and Poppy

Literature cited

BEBBER, D. P., M. A. CARINE, J. R. I. WOOD, A. H. WORTLEY, D. J. HARRIS, G. T. PRANCE, G. DAVIDSE, J. PAIGE, T. D. PENNINGTON, N. K. B. ROBSON, and R. W. SCOTLAND. 2010. Herbaria are a major frontier for species discovery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107(51):22169-22171.

DORST, D. 2010. The surf guru: stories. New York, Riverhead Books.

JONES, M. E. 1930. Botanical reminiscences. Contributions to Western Botany 17:1-31.

LANG, G. I., and D. BOTSTEIN. 2011. A Test of the Coordinated Expression Hypothesis for the Origin and Maintenance of the GAL Cluster in Yeast. PLoS ONE 6(9):e25290.

Okay, let’s do the cookies first.

Botany belly badges. Caring is sharing, yo.

Science Care Bear Stare!


The gang's all here!


Deb Trock wrote up a really nice piece in the current Flora of North America (FNANM) newsletter featuring student authors and their treatments – and Rebecca Stubbs and I are in the latest issue on the website [July-December 2011]. Rebecca works on Polemonium, and has a great website describing her research at SFSU with Dr. Patterson.

We tried to take some photos for Dr. Trock to use, but we were laughing pretty hard. Brennan Wenck-Riley [grad student of Dennis Desjardin] snapped a semi-serious pose with Laura Garrison’s Phacelia specimens in the Harry D. Thiers herbarium, photo is courtesy of his patient efforts. Left to right in the photo are Trigger the service dog, me, Dr. Robert Patterson, and Rebecca Stubbs.