What did Stonhenge and Trapper Nelson’s Cabin Have in Common?

24 Feb


Samolus verlandi (Or Samolus verlandi subsp. parviflorus,  or S. parviflorus)

Traditionally Primulaceae (Or Samolaceae)

Today John and George visited the “Tarzan of the Loxahatchee’s”  historic camp in Jonathan Dickinson State Park    CLICK   Trapper Nelson’s ghost still haunts the vicinity as the abundant offspring of his exotic fruit trees, bamboos, and other apparent introductions to illustrate the consequences of bringing non-native species into a native habitat.

Of the flowering natives along the swampy river shore the stars of the show were Lizards’s Tails CLICK,  and speaking of lizards,  we almost missed this camouflaged peek-a-boo:


The prize for best supporting flower goes to pretty little Brookweed.

Samolus verlandi (All photos today by John Bradford)

Samolus verlandi (Both photos today by John Bradford)

Brookweed is not an everyday flower.  The species is not rare, but you have to go to a squishy habitat at the right time.  The plant is a charmer, sort of delicate, sort of shy, with tiny white bright flowers in the dancing jungle sun and shadows. (There is a second species in Florida, S.ebracteatus.)

When I want to know more about a plant, the first place I often look is the Flora of North America. CLICK  And when I saw there the suggestion that the plant was probably known to the Druids, that caught my eye.

I mean, how many plants do we know from the Druids!?  The connection between Druids and Samolus comes from an account by Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD),  well known to botanists as author of the medically biased  “Field Guide to Everything”  from the Roman Empire.  Pliny recorded the Druids to pick their Brookweed without looking at it, while fasting, with their left hand, to serve as a veterinary medicine.   So John shot a picture of our Samolus left-handed and blindfolded before lunch.

(By the way, Stonehenge and Druids tend to be mentioned together.  If not for Stonehenge, I’d not know a Druid if he walked up and said “good day for human sacrifice.”  But truth told, I do not know enough to vouch for the veracity of the Druid-Stonehenge connection.)

You may have noticed two competing classifications for today’s little posie, one classification is as a separate North American species (S. parviflorus) distributed from nippy northern Canada to toasty Florida and southward to Bolivia.  That is quite an impressive distribution.  (And it is in Japan too?)

The competing classification extends the range even more broadly if the North American “S. parviflorus” is merged into a broadly interpreted S. verlandi, a species with a huge multicontinental distribution: the Americas, Europe, and beyond.  Just to broaden the blog, let’s go arbitrarily with the big inclusive interpretation of  S. verlandi  embracing our little wildflower at Trapper Nelson’s.  That is more fun, since must of what is written about Samolus is based on S. verlandi.

Those little Samolus verlandi flowers are an example of “plan B” pollination.   Let me explain.   You might say throughout the plant world generally pollination from a separate individual is best.  That is why we have the birds and the bees.  So we’ll call pollen brought from a different plant “plan A.”

But if outside pollination fails there is a backup mechanism—“plan B”  is self-pollination, that is, a single flower pollinates itself in lonely desperation.   In this contingency, the pollen-bearing stamens tilt inward until they brush pollen onto the stigma of the same blossom.  In the link below the photographer caught a Samolus with one flower where the stamens are upright (righthand flower),  and another flower (on the left) as the stamens begin to curve inward toward the stigma CLICK

Samolus verlandi seems to like salt.  Other observers comment on the affinity of the species for habitats lightly salty—not too much, not too little.  I have a hunch that the Loxahatchee River at Trapper Nelsons is lightly salty with variations from the weather, tide, and season.

Samolus verlandi has a minor market in commercial horticulture as a submerged aquarium plant and as an indoor container plant.


Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Brookweed


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6 responses to “What did Stonhenge and Trapper Nelson’s Cabin Have in Common?

  1. Jennifer Foglia

    February 25, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    After visiting McArthur State Park during class, I was so impressed with the park that I returned with my fiancé to show him all the glorious plants that I knew. I’m sure I was more excited to talk about the plants than he was but it was amazing. I saw a lot that I knew, I saw a lot that I recognized and knew that I knew and couldn’t wait to get home and look them up. My question is, I could have sworn that there was a Poisonwood hidden somewhere in the woods by the ocean. I looked and looked because I wanted to show him but couldn’t find it anywhere. Am I mistaken? There were snowberries in bloom, and it was a gorgeous day! A special thanks to George Rogers for bringing his vast knowledge of everything botanical to so many people. Can’t wait for the next field trip!

  2. George Rogers

    February 26, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Jennifer, That big Poisonwood Tree is about halfway along the dune trail, on the ocean side of the trail, just before (left side of) one of the passageways down to the ocean. Any fiance who puts up with native plants must be an awesome dude.

  3. prautenkranz

    February 27, 2014 at 10:04 am

    After reading about the Samolus Verlandi and looking at the photo, I noticed that both flowers look as though they originate from the same plant. Is this a case of working both sides of the fence? Is this Samolus showing signs of A and B ? Possibly the flower with stamens that are outward, might not have them curling inward yet? Both flowers look to be of the same maturity and size, so I wondered.

  4. George Rogers

    February 27, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Exactly, They are (presumably) on the same individual…just at different points in their life-progression. Just like us, if you fail at this, you might try that.

  5. Suellen Granberry-Hager

    February 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    The yellow butterwort from February 8th pinch-traps the bee to aid in pollination. Would pollen from the plant the bee is visiting end up pollinating the same plant instead of being carried to another individual? Or does pollen the bee has already picked up mix with pollen from the flower it is visiting and both end up pollinating the flower? In other words, do pollinators cause both Plan A and Plan B pollination at the same time?

  6. George Rogers

    February 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    There’s no telling without a little research. Degrees of self-compatibility depends on species, and probably varies even within species (and maybe sometimes with enviro conditions) along a spectrum of 100% self-incompatibility to 100% self-compatibility.


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