Wednesday, May 28

A most curious plant

On this morning’s hike, we were so pleased to be breathing such spring-fresh air after almost a week of rainstorms. Over that period we received nearly two inches (5cm) of welcome moisture. It allowed us to get some roadwork done, and certainly will be welcomed by the plants around here.

One plant that has been catching my attention for several weeks now is the Brodeia (bro-DEE-uh) because of its apparent lack of leaves. The stem just juts out of the ground and at the top is anywhere from one to nine blossoms. The picture above shows two plants, one with nine and the other with seven blossoms. Most common are plants with two or three flowers.

The plant comes from a bulb that’s pretty deep in the ground, compared to the overall height. Shown is one I dug up for science (well, pseudoscience). It is 18.5" overall, 47cm, from bulb to blossom. The arrow points to the ground line. Over one-third of the plant is underground. Its apparent lack of leaves, except for the minuscule tufts right where the flowers form at the top of the stem, has me baffled. How does a plant get the energy and food it needs with almost no leaves?

After a lot of searching on the Internet, I came up with nothing. Anyone out there in blog-reading land know the answer? Please let me know.


Pete S. said...

Very interesting. Does it have leaves during a different time of year, blooming in spring before this year's leaves appear?

Susan said...

All I found was that some plants with no leaves make their branches do the job.

The bulb also has a lot to do with the plant's nutrition. This plant is an edible one - the bulbs store a lot of nutrition that humans like - so it may store food over winter and survive on what's in that during the summer.

Tom Hurley said...

Susan, I read that it is edible. Tasty? I don't know. It seems that plants with bulbs have leaves; daffodils come to mind.

Pete, looking at the stem, all the way from bulb to flower, there is nothing but smooth. No nodes for leaves to pop out. The flowers have very green bases(?) and that along with the stem itself may act as a photosynthesizing element.

Pat said...

Hey guys, I didn't see this blog until this morning (29th). The Brodiaeas all have the long flower stem but their leaves are from the bulb too, and are long, slender, and probably wilted and brown and don't look like leaves anymore. If you are familiar with the amaryillis they call Naked Ladies, the blooms come out all on their own, and the leaves are all dried out beforehand. (beforehand looks funny--is it right?)

Gotta go and pick up Avis at the train station. She's coming up from Encinitas to visit today and will go back on the train this afternoon.

Susan said...

I guess the bulb doesn't have to be tasty to be nutritious :-) Just a thought - did you actually eat the plant you dug up for pseudo scientific purposes? If not, you could extend the experiment for us and let us know what it tastes like.

Thanks for shedding some light on this, Aunt Pat. Hope you have a good visit with Avis.

Looks like you were on the right track too Pete, with your leafy questions.

I have to run too - someone is coming to inspect the house (with a view to buying it) in 25 minutes.