Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nuttallanthus sp.: Texas Toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus) and Apalachicola Toadflax (Nuttallanthus floridanus)

In addition to Nuttalanthus canadensis (Canadian Toadflax), two other Nuttallanthus sp. - Nuttallanthus texanus (Texas Toadflax) and Nuttallanthus floridanus (Apalachicola Toadflax) – bloomed in our area last year. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database, all three species would be expected to grow in Georgia. In the county, I noticed them mainly along the side of roads around our place. At our place, they bloomed mainly along the drive to the house and in a plowed area not far from the drive.

At first I didn’t realize that we had multiple Nuttallanthus sp. I saw the Canadian Toadflax first and, initially, thought that the larger flowers were the same species simply growing larger in better soil on the opposite of the field. Then I looked closer and realized there were two different flowers. It took a little longer, a lot of observation, and some online research to confirm that three species were growing here. The Canadian Toadflax bloomed a little earlier than the Texas and Apalachicola Toadflax; these species bloomed concurrently. The flowers of the Canadian Toadflax are quite small; about 1/4 inch across or smaller. The Apalachicola and Texas Toadflaxes are larger; about 1/2 inch across.

Sadly, neither the Apalachicola nor the Texas Toadflax has bloomed here this year. Since these species are annuals, it’s possible that seeds did not survive the severe winter we experienced last winter. The fact that I see them most frequently along roadsides probably means that seeds are ‘trucked in' along highways. Hopefully they will be ‘introduced’ again. It will be interesting to watch and see if/when they ‘return’ to this area. I hope it doesn’t take too long; they're among my favorites.

Apalachicola Toadflax (Nuttallanthus floridanus)
I identify the Apalachicola and Texas Toadflaxes based in the flower coloring. The flowers remind me of Sherlock Holmes’ hat. The Apalachicola Toadflax is a larger version of the Canadian Toadflax flower. The ‘crown’ of the ‘ Apalachicola Toadflax flower is pure white and the ‘flaps’ are solid mauve or pinkish-mauve.

Texas Toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus)
In contrast, the Texas Toadflax flower – both crown and flaps - is basically white but with purple veining so that the flower looks purple; the crown might look slightly whiter but has purple veining across it.

Nuttallanthus sp. are native to the United States. N. texanus (Texas Toadflax) grows widely in the United States and Canada with the notable exception of the northeastern United States and Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the maritime provinces. N floridanus (Apalachicola Toadflax) is limited to the southeastern United States – Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:
United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:
- Nuttallanthus floridanus
(Apalachicola Toadflax)

- Nuttallanthus texanus
(Texas Toadflax)

Identification resources:

Southeastern Flora:
- Apalachicola Toadflax (Nuttallanthus floridanus)
- Texas Toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus)

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower

- Canadian Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)

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