The photo above is a scene from Lewiston, NY, on Goat Island at Niagara Falls. This past weekend, I was priveleged to spend an entire weekend studying Petrocosmea genetics! (with a brief side trip to "the Falls". ) I must keep you in suspence a bit longer, but we are getting some interesting data on the interspecific relationships of the Petrocosmea species we have in cultivation at this time. This information will hopefully contribute some valuable data to our knowledge of this fascinating genus that is still largely unstudied. Of course, the taxonomic component still needs a lot of work, and we are slowly but surely working on that too.
Having access to a microscope allowed me to spend some time studying the anatomical and structural characteristics of Pet species. I could spend months just looking down those lens and gazing at the minute, and miraculous features of each species. Above are some quick, ten-minute sketches I drew of the anthers and filaments of P. nervosa and P. minor-smooth leaf form. The pollen is stored within two "pillow-like" cavities on either side of the mid-line of each anther. The pollen "shoots" out of an opening at the tip (pointed area) when pressure is applied to the "pillow". The shape of the anthers is one of the features that determines species' placement within the three Sections of the genus Petrocosmea. The more rounded shape of the tip of the anther of P. nervosa place it in the most primitive section..Section : Petrocosmea. The pointed tip of the anther of P. minor "likely" places it in Section : Anisochilus (that is my guess). The filaments of P. minor were thick and globular, with a white apex and deep blackish purple violet base. The tiny hairs on the filament were white, with purple tips on the white apex.....the pigments in the filament looked like little purple jewels under the microscope. Amazing and very beautiful!!!
As you can see from the drawing above, two things are evident. First, I am NOT an artist!! and second, there is much to learn from the differences in the anatomical structures of Petrocosmea. I hope to spend much more time in the next few months attempting to iron some of the mysteries and frustrations with the mis-labeling of species and perhaps even confirm that we have some unidentified (undescribed) species within our collections! For me, sketching and drawing the floral parts allows me to focus on every minuted detail. It is a trick I learned as a nursing student many years ago. As I draw, I notice things that I had never noticed before. Try it with your own Pets when they flower. Remove a leaf or a peduncle and spend a few minuted dissecting the structures and studying them. You'll gain a renewed appreciation for the miracles of nature and Petrocosmea!