Ruellia terminale

Ruellia_terminale_cleistogamous flowers

It is sometimes absolutely impossible to discuss even the basic biology of a species without diving 20 feet under, into the de-oxygenated regions of its taxonomic and nomenclatural history.

No idea what I’m talking about? Let me try. Find this plant in Guatemala. Find it in Peru. It used to masquerade under vastly different names, of which the most common were Ruellia metallica, Ruellia riopalenquensis, Ruelia pennellii, and Ruellia consocialis. Come on! Ruellia metallica alone is enough to intrigue the mind…

Anyway, it turns out that after 10 years of sweating over the subject, we decided that all these names represent the same species. See Tripp & McDade 2012 (Brittonia).

Oh – there is other gunk in the mix, too. Ruellia pygmaea, Ruellia oaxacana…. check back in 20 years. And yes, I measure my life in coffee spoons, too.

The open flowers of this species aren’t exactly remarkable, so I thought I’d show you a photo of cleistogamous flowers in Ruellia. They are common throughout the genus. Never open. Subject only to self pollination. Ahh, the life.

Wild collected, Costa Rica, Tripp & Salazar-Amoretti #148 (DUKE); photo by Erin Tripp

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