Sunday, June 12, 2011

Plant oddity

Dear friends, I have so many posts cooking in my brain right now that it's really not funny. A floral oddity caught my attention yesterday, though, and it begs immediate sharing with you, my curious readers.

There is a large population of Wingstem (Actinomeris alterniflora) plants in the woods across the road from my house. They won't be in bloom for another couple of months, but they are easily identified by their stem which looks to be, well, winged - thus the common name. I'll show you the stem shortly. But first you have to look at the leaves!

What the heck? An albino plant? Is that even possible? Apparently it is, but I had no idea - until now.

Yup, it's pretty much just white...

... except where it's green. Note the white ridges along the sides of the stem. Those are the "wings" that give the plant its common name. Normally, of course, those wings would be green, along with the rest of the plant. I am perplexed about the fact that the central portion of the stem is still green. All of the green leaves in the background belong to other, non-albino, Wingstems.

Not only is the center of the stem still green, but parts of some of the leaves are, too. This was the largest patch of green that I found on this plant. Most bizarre.

Aside from the fact that the lack of chlorophyll will likely hinder much more growth from this plant (no chlorophyll means no nutrients for the plant), it seems that the plant is potentially structurally weak, as well. The leaves are paper-thin, with an almost transparent quality, and if you look carefully, you can see my fingers right through the leaf.

I love it when nature throws me curve balls like this. Always keeping me on my toes, and making me ask questions. I'll keep an eye on this one - I'll be interested to see if it makes it to the flowering stage. I predict that it won't, though. Never a dull moment out there!


Adam Tilt said...

That's not something I've come across before Heather. Like you I love it when nature throws up these oddities.

John said...

Very interesting. For some reason I really like the picture of the green on the stem - it stands out vividly against the white.perstemi