Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Matelea carolinensis: Nonpigmented Flowers

April 20th – April 27th, 2012. We found Matelea carolinensis (Maroon Carolina Milkvine) and Matelea flavidula (Yellow Carolina Milkvine) in both Hancock and Jones counties within a day of each other.

At each location, it was uncanny that the petals of M. flavidula resembled those of M. carolinensis in shape and size. In addition, we found vines of M. flavidula, climbing the same stems intertwined with vines of M. carolinensis in both locations.
At one point, I actually became a little paranoid – like you do when you have a find that’s too good to be true - that the M. flavidula flowers might just be a nonpigmented variant of M. carolinensis. Particularly since the ‘Name that Plant’ website shows a photograph of a non-pigmented variant. I actually unwound a couple of vines a short way to verify that the maroon and green flowers weren’t on the same vine; they weren’t.

Among the matelea vines at the first Hancock County site, we stumbled across a single vine with green flowers that were quite different from those of the M. flavidula plants we’d found.

The vine, with a cluster of flowers

Closer views of the flower clusters

A close view of the cluster of flowers. Even at this distance it’s clear that the petals have tinges of purple on the upper side and look distinctly more opaque than those of M. flavidula. In addition the corona (center) of the flower is clearly deep purple like that of M. carolinensis and not yellow like M. flavidula.

The under side of the petals. The purple color is quite clear.

A close up of an individual flower. There is some suggestion of a reticular pattern on the petals but the petals of these flowers are quite distinct from those of M. flavidula.

Based on all of these observations, we have now found pigmented and non-pigmented M. carolinensis plants as well as plants of M. flavidula plants. The only thing we haven’t seen yet is a hybrid M. carolinensis x M. flavidula flower. We’ll be on the lookout for one of these.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

Alan Cressler: Matelea flavidula

- Houston county:
Short petal and long petal
- Cook County

Alan Cressler: Hybrid: M. carolinensis x M. flavidula

- Houston County

Name that Plant. Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:
- Matelea carolinensis (
Carolina Spinypod, Climbing Milkweed)
- Matelea carolinensis (Carolina Spinypod, Climbing Milkweed) - nonpigmented flowers

- Matelea flavidula (Yellow Spinypod)

USDA Plants Database:
- Matelea carolinensis (Maroon Carolina Milkvine)
- Matelea flavidula (Yellow Carolina Milkvine)

University of North Carolina Herbarium:
- Matelea flavidula

Related Posts:
- Matelea flavidula: Fact, Not Fiction

- Jones County, Georgia: Yellow Carolina Milkvine (Matelea flavidula)

- Hancock County, Georgia: Yellow Carolina Milkvine (Matelea flavidula)

- Maroon Carolina Milkvine (Matelea carolinensis)

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