Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Buttercup mimic

Along the shady banks of a stream at this time of year, we always see the large-leaved avens in flower with its feet in the mud.

Geum macrophyllum var. perincisum, Burns Bog

We found it at the base of the cliff in White Rock, where the trickle of water never fails, and in the ditch by the railroad at Crescent Beach. It reclaimed a mudslide behind my backyard when I lived near Mission. And it lines the path beside the creek in Burns Bog.

In many ways, it looks sort of buttercuppish. It likes the same conditions; wet ground, some shade. The avens flowers, 5 petalled and bright yellow, look like a skimpy buttercup; the leaves are similar to some buttercup leaves. But the buttercup bears its flowers on individual, leafless stems, where the avens flowers cluster at the tip of hairy, leafy stems. Most buttercups (definitely not all) grow close to the ground. In deep shade, though, they may be quite tall, but not as bushy as the avens.


And where they get half a chance, the buttercups go hog-wild, producing a brilliant yellow carpet.

Buttercups, Burnaby Foreshore Park

They're not relatives; the large-leaved avens belong to the Rose family. The buttercup is a Ranunculus.

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