white flowered plant from Attard

Requests about identification of wild plants in Malta and Gozo. (Please include precise details and pictures to help the experts in their ID process)

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white flowered plant from Attard

Post by AlanOuten » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:06 pm

This plant was found by me at Attard growing on road verges near Hotel Corinthia Palace on 09 August 2013. It looks to me as if it is Dipsacaceae and possibly cf. Pterocephalus but I cannot match it to anything in the Flora of Malta. I do have other images. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

<Many thanks

Alan
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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:40 am

Hi, it is also confusing me as if something I never saw, either because it's so (!) or it is in strange atypical form (damaged, stunted, 'oppressed' or not its preferred habitat). Nevertheless it is more likely an Asteraceae in my opinion, although some Dipsicaceae can have that general appearance. This family is huge and more photos of the flower and the seeds will help. The flower looks like a deformed Sonchus asper but the leaves are different.
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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:05 am

Side note: I am experimenting and growing seeds from commercial bird seed, and one of them (not yet in flower) has the leaves which resemble those of your photo. It also has black seeds! - - - Just a note ! :binky:
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Post by AlanOuten » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:39 am

Thank you Stephen. My original thinking was also Asteraceae but the combination of the flower and those fruits persuaded me that it was more likely Dipsacaceae. However I am certain that it is not Sonchus. (Fruits are also wrong for a Sonchus!) I do concede though that Asteraceae remains possibility. My first though when I saw them was something akin to Galinosoga but I quickly rejected that idea. I also think that these were normally growing and not stunted or damaged plants. There were plenty of them along a stretch of c 100 metres growing at the side of the small quiet road, which ran behind the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard. The plants were all very similar and reaching an overall maximum height of c 15 - 22 cm. With hindsight I wish I had collected a specimen and taken close ups of the fruit. I will certainly look out for it when we visit next year but that is likely to be rather earlier than this year's August visit. It certainly wasn't there on our 2010 visit. In the meantime I will keep working on this and I am attaching another two images.

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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:14 pm

If we are lucky, the plant I am cultivating is the same as your and we could have an ID. I know that morphologically, Dipsicaceae (and genetically Campanulaceae) are the most closely related families to Asteraceae but from what I see I tend to side with Asteraceae for the moment. I am not familiar with many Dipsicaceae here in Malta except Scabiosa, so I may be wrong, but still, my instinct points for Asteraceae. Later I check my notes for clear differences between the two families.

The similarity of your leaves and mine is striking. The hypothesis bird-seed escaped from nearby houses and growing in semi-rural or anthropognic sites is not bad as an idea, but for now it's just speculation!
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Post by IL-PINE » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:31 pm

I have seen this plant last year along the roads of Pieta and Floriana. I have no idea what it is.

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Post by IL-PINE » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:02 pm

it is an Asteraceae yes.
Genus Eclipta.
acccording to Pignatti it might be Eclipta prostrata.
will try to search where I saw it last year. maybe it is still present there. No idea if it was recorded from our islands in the past.

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Post by AlanOuten » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:28 pm

Brilliant. Well done Il-Pine! There are apparently 3 - 4 species in this genus depending on which authority one follows. Flora Europaea gives just Eclipta prostrata in Europe as naturalised locally in Southern Europe (Spain, Italy and Portugal so not a million miles from Malta). It originates from Tropical and warm temperate South America. Despite having travelled and botanised extensively in Europe I have never encountered this genus before and was pretty sure it was something new! It certainly sounds as if it is now established on Malta as well!

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Post by IL-PINE » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:07 pm

no problem :)

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Post by IL-PINE » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:57 pm

I don't think MWP's plants are of the same species.

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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:24 pm

Internet doesn't mention that Eclipta is used as a bird seed, so in theory, the plants should be different from mine, but their is a remarkable similarity in the morphology of the leaves (shape, few small teeth, colour, opposite, vein branching, and assumingly dimensions...)

I've never seen this plant but I don't botanise Malta in Summer, so well done guys - another species to put on the website.

So does it grow only at road sides? I wonder how it arrived in Malta?


Alan may I use your photos ?
Pine you may submit yours too.
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Post by AlanOuten » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:29 pm

Yes Stephen you may of course use my images. Like Il Pine I am not wholly convinced at present that your bird seed plant is the same as to me there look to be subtle differences but we will await yours hopefully flowering to see for certain.

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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:50 pm

Hi Alan, thanks.... I am quite sure it is not the same otherwise it would be mentioned somewhere that is used as commercial bird seed. Instead it has a number medicinal uses including hair growth stimulant.

Regarding records, the species was recorded from Malta as Anthemis cotula from Marsa, Sliema, Pieta and Floriana, so it matches with the evidence you and pine had given. First record by Grech Delicata in the late 19th century. (Ref. Haslam et al., 1977).

Nevertheless, I think it is a rare species. How large was the population ?
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Post by AlanOuten » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:01 pm

I do not understand. Anthemis cotula L. is not a synonym for this plant and there is nothing in Haslam to indicate that the records of A. cotula were mis-identified! Indeed what Haslam et al were recording was clearly Anthemis cotula and not Eclipta. Nor is there anything to suggest that earlier records for this were Eclipta In addition late 19th Century would be very early for Eclipta in Europe I think!

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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:16 pm

I simply checked the list of synonyms for Eclipta alba / prostrata from the plant list which gave a list of more than 50 taxa of which Anthemis cotula (and a number of infra-specific taxa) is one of them. Then there must be a mistake somewhere... Still, Eclipta prostrata is the accapted taxon.
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Post by MWP admin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:51 pm

Update: I checked Grech Delicata (1853) who listed Maruta cotula and then I checked Borg (1927) who reports Anthemis cotula L. from Malta/ The latter describes the species with bipinnatifid leaves and so does not correspond to the images posted here. I also noticed that the cited authority of the nominal species cited by TPL is not L. but Blanco so there might be the catch!

I have not checked Sommier & Caruana Gatto and other botanists, so Alan there is a possibility that you've reported a new alien species here!
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Post by AlanOuten » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:27 pm

Anthemis cotula L. is widespread and common across Europe as an arable weed and a plant that I know well. I also saw it in Malta this year! It is indeed a plant with bipinnatifid leaves, large 'daisy' type flowers and totally different to this plant. The plant Anthemis cotula sensu Blanco is an illegitimate name and hence the 'synonymy' was purely as a mis-identification. If you do a Google search on Anthemis cotula you will find large numbers of good images for the real A. cotula that will show you how clearly distinct it is from Eclipta prostrata which incidentally was also first named by Linnaeus! He therefore also knew they were different!

Best wishes

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Post by MWP admin » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:03 am

Yes, I did a very quick and simple search in the first place (to reply il-Pine), but when you pointed out that A. cotula L. is different I found what you just said. (so I fully agree)

Were did you find Anthemis cotula L. (which I never saw) in the wild or in cultivation ?

By the way, this is a great post - the way I like them: botanical and offering new information.
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Post by AlanOuten » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:12 am

The Eclipta plants that I saw and photographed were along Triq-Il-Linja and there must have been in excess of 50 plants along a 100metre stretch of road edge.

My notebook indicates that I saw Anthemis cotula in two places this year:

1. As a weed in the San Anton Botanic gardens in an uncultivated area with other ruderal weeds within a series of walled compounds behind a building complex and near the Japanese walkway. (07-14 August)

2. at the edge of bare fields whilst waiting for the bus to Rabat on Triq L-Imdina. We had walked up Vjal de Paule and then crossed the main Trig L-Imdina road to the bus stop. There were I recall some Opuntia plants at the edge of the field and bend these were a few arable weed species, most shrivelled up but a few, including some dozen or so plants of the Anthemis still flowering (08 August 2013). I have a recollection that I may also have seen them in 2012.

I did not bother photographing them as I have seen this species so many times elsewhere.

I am glad that this posting has been of interest. I am delighted to have an identification for the Eclipta and also that it may be new. I have in the past found new plants to Cyprus, Crete and Bulgaria as well as a fly species new to Bulgaria that was previously known only from the type specimen from Dardanelles! There is also the Chalcidoid wasp species from Malta for which I sent you images separately. I have also found many Fungi in the UK new to Britain as well as some new to science.

I always think that discussion Forums such as this are very good and very worthwhile.

Best wishes

Alan

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Post by IL-PINE » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:18 am

keep it up!
this post is extremely interesting.
I have never bothered trying to identify the Anthemis species in Malta, will try next year. I always write them as Anthemis sp. in my notes.

This year I have also seen a Verbascum species which was colonising a stretch of land along Manoel Island. Might also be a new alien species for our island.


Thanks
Owen

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Post by IL-PINE » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:34 pm

just saw a couple of plants 'naturalised' in a garden nursery in Burmarrad. Explains the origin :)

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Post by MWP admin » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:46 am

Hi folks, Edwin Lanfranco replied that he recorded this plant back in 2005 from Sliema/Pieta area. Horticulture escape should be a plausible explanation, though it escapes my imagination why Maltese people would buy the plant with inconspicuous flowers. Have you ever seen it as an embellishment in traffic islands ala Pennisteum perhaps used in Summer ?
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Post by IL-PINE » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:49 am

Its not cultivated for ornament. It occurs as weeds in pots. Like that brassicaceae (cant remember its name), and the various oxalis species

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Post by MWP admin » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:08 am

Well, my bird seed was quite close to Eclipta - so hope I can keep the title of a good botanist :-)


http://maltawildplants.com/forum/viewto ... =9738#9738




Alan's post about biodiversity recording is here: http://maltawildplants.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1845
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Post by IL-PINE » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:27 pm

ironically it has sprouted in my house on the rooftop.!
It has spouted in a pot which I bought Spartium junceum from a flowershop. so it kinda confirms my hypothesis!

btw this should be my 1000 post on the forum :)

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