Plant ID forum: Turnera diffusa var diffusa or var aphrodisiaca or what?

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Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
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vitrsna
Feb 24, 2015 11:03 AM CST
I purchased the seeds of this plant a few years ago which were identified by the seller as "Turnera diffusa" (Damiana). It is a beautiful plant but there is some question about the taxonomy. I do believe it is Turnera diffusa because this is the host plant for the Mexican Fritillary butterfly and my plant was well used by that butterfly and lots of caterpillars have grown up on it. Although it is possible that these butterflies would use any "Turnera" as a host. The images on the internet are all over the place and not reliable. Any ideas? I would like to add it to the database but don't want to classify it incorrectly.





Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 25, 2015 10:48 AM CST
The broader leaves suggest Turnera ulmifolia, although I can't find any other 'academic' sites which are usually reliable other than the link below, you can enlarge the drawing which shows broad leaves. There may be others!

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp593

Turnera diffusa var. aphrodisiaca ..

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/nativeshrubs/...

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/shrub...

Turnera diffusa ...

Phillip Schappert, a biologist with the University of Texas at Austin, has photographed the plant growing in Starr County west of Roma, near where FM 650 meets US 83. Though he doesn't live in the Valley, he may be able to give you directions to the plants he photographed.


http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=615

http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/philjs/diffusa.html

I found a document which describes Turnera ulmifolia :

Turnera ulmifolia L. is a polymorphic polyploid complex of perennial weeds commonly called ‘Yellow Alder’. This variety is a dense compact shrub that has dark green foliage and bright yellow flowers.


Link headed: Turnera ulmifolia - eIJPPR

https://www.google.co.uk/#q=Turnera+ulmifolia+identification...

Photo on a pdf isn't much help ..

http://www.bulletinofinsectology.org/pdfarticles/vol64-2011-...

I found photos of a reliably identified Turnera ulmifolia, the leaves are more ovate than yours.

http://www.comfsm.fm/~dleeling/botany/1998/vhp/martha02.html

I found someone's very thorough research on this, with answers from people in the know. You need to read the whole article, take note of "Panama’s Turnera"

http://ntsavanna.com/elm-leaved-turnera-turnera-ulmifolia/

No crown in its flower and linear, short bracteoles are all we need to know to say with confidence that it is Turnera ulmifolia


I would say the "crown in the flower" is the part sticking out the middle above the orange-coloured stamens/anthers. Yours does have this, so that should exclude Turnera ulmifolia.




[Last edited by JRsbugs - Feb 25, 2015 10:55 AM (+)]
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Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 25, 2015 11:17 AM CST
The Smithsonian Institute has species listed,

http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/herbarium/search/quick/?search_k...

Turnera panamensis shows a 'crown' (enlarge photo), the leaves look narrower ..

http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics/dfm/metas/view/15...

It looks like a large shrub, and flower petals are pointed ..

http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/herbarium/species/26472/?search_...

Turnera ulmifolia has very different flowers!

A list of Turnera, and reference to keys ..

http://www.yorku.ca/shore/Turneraceae/Turneralist%20Jan20%20...

Discover Life references ..

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Turnera

More on plantillustrations ..

http://www.plantillustrations.org/volume.php?id_volume=223&l...
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
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vitrsna
Feb 25, 2015 4:48 PM CST
Thank you Janet! Thumbs up You have done a lot of research here and now it is my turn...it may take me awhile, but i will follow up on the links and possibly we can come to some conclusions about this Turnera. From what i have seen and read so far there appears to be long-standing confusion regarding this plant.

I would like to ask a question though. Many of the photos that we are looking at here are of plants growing in the wild. My photos are of a plant tended to and watered and fertilized, etc because i was growing it for the caterpillars to eat and i wanted lots of lush foliage to offer them. Do you think this should be (could be) a factor to be considered as we proceed?
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 25, 2015 5:23 PM CST
Good care will make a difference to how a plant looks Beverly, but I doubt it would change any of it's specific features. Pruning and shaping will make a bushier plant but won't alter the basic structures.

I don't know anything about the species, but I wonder if there has been crosses made between species which are more garden worthy.
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
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vitrsna
Feb 25, 2015 6:00 PM CST
I got the seeds from a seller that specializes in medicinal plants and this seller is in Florida but many of the seeds he sells come from Surinam. So i am not sure just where the seeds i received came from but i wouldn't think that he would be dealing much in hybrids and/or cultivars to make pretty gardens. Although it is possible he is clueless. This is why i prefer to purchase seeds from the people who grow them. I did send the seeds from the plant i grew to a person here in Mexico a year or so ago. He sent me a photo of his plant which i seem to remember at the time did not look like the parent plant. So, i have just written to him asking for more photos. If the seeds from my plant (the photos above) did not germinate true to the parent, then that should tell us something, Yes? I don't know exactly what it should tell us but probably you do? Smiling Anyway i'll post the photos here when/if i receive them. In the meantime, i'll be following up your links.
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 25, 2015 6:25 PM CST
Variabilty is more likely to come from a hybrid as you get throwbacks, also if the seed germinates evenly indicates a hybrid but not necessarily so, it could just mean it's a species which readily germinates. Species often germinate at staggered times, it's a survival mechanism.

I don't see why someone in Surinam wouldn't have access to hybrids, it depends on how he gets his seed. If people living in the high inaccessible mountains of Morocco like they have done for hundreds of years have mobile phones and TV, anything is possible! Hilarious!

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/feb/25/...

Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
Charter ATP Member Organic Gardener Garden Photography Bee Lover Dragonflies Cat Lover
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JRsbugs
Feb 25, 2015 7:22 PM CST
Key to series of genus Turnera ..

http://www.kew.org/science/tropamerica/neotropikey/families/...

Specimens .. dried!

http://science.mnhn.fr/institution/mnhn/list?order=null&genu...

Note, one from Guiana which is either side of Surinam, the leaves of Turnera odorata look good but no flowers, from French Guiana.

http://science.mnhn.fr/institution/mnhn/collection/p/item/p0...

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Turnera+in+Surinam&biw=106...

You might struggle with this! Hilarious!
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
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vitrsna
Feb 25, 2015 10:50 PM CST
Struggle? yes for sure, but i'll see how far i can get...it is worth it for me to either "know" or "know there is no knowing".

I wasn't suggesting that people from Surinam don't have access to hybrids. The point i was trying to make is that the seller is selling medicinal plants and i think that medicinal plants would generally not be hybrids, but rather plants found or grown in their natural form.

I received photos of the plants that were grown from the parent plant and both are the same plant. The leaves of the parent plant are darker and the plant is much fuller due to different growing conditions (less sun/more sun; less water/more water, etc), but other than that the leaves and flowers are the same.

Thanks for the additional links! Already i have the feeling that they all are going to contradict one another Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
Charter ATP Member Organic Gardener Garden Photography Bee Lover Dragonflies Cat Lover
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JRsbugs
Feb 26, 2015 4:14 AM CST
This is where extra information is very useful! Knowing that the seller sells medicinal plants can help in searching, although I suspect there is more than one Turnera species which is used medicinally there might be one species which is better than others.

Have you asked your seller where he got these seeds from? That would be a good clue if he could tell you that!

If you can get the origin of the seeds, then a search for something like "ethnobotanical Turnera country X" might get you further.

Look at the results I got from searching the terms using Surinam ..

https://www.google.co.uk/#q=ethnobotanical+Turnera+Surinam
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
Butterflies Organic Gardener Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter
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vitrsna
Feb 26, 2015 10:38 AM CST
It is true that different Turneras are said to have different health benefits and i expect that all Turneras have one type of health benefit or another. It seems that the most sought after is the diffusa var aphrodisiaca the benefits of which are explained in the name. As far as i can figure out, there is Turnera diffusa and Turnera diffusa var aphrodisiaca both of which are commonly named "Damiana" but one kind of Damiana is used for gastrointestinal problems (or something like that) and the other is used to promote a healthy libido. Of course there are a number of species other than diffusa. I really wasn't interested in the medicinal properties so have only paid brief attention to them in my search to identify the plant that i have. There is quite a bit of "Damiana" being sold on the market that is noted as being "aphrodisiaca" but really isn't. This is causing a problem for the seed sellers and seed purchasers. I bought seeds maybe 3 years ago or so but i will visit the site to see what current information they have about what they are selling as "Damiana" and where it is coming from. I'll let you know what i find out about where the seeds came from...i think this information is provided on the site description.

I see in the dictionary that begins your link above that they do not make the differentiation between Turnera diffusa and Turnera diffusa var. aphrodiasica so their information may not be up-to-date. I will explore the link more carefully later today. You are truly a sleuth extraordinaire, you may call me "Watson" Thumbs up
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
Butterflies Organic Gardener Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter
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vitrsna
Feb 26, 2015 11:55 AM CST
The Turnera seeds are wild-crafted (responsibly, they say) in the Amazon forest of Suriname...here is a photo that can be clicked on to enlarge. The plant is defined as Turnera diffusa (aka aphrodisiaca). The leaves are similar to the photos of the plant i grew, but the flower is different.

http://www.tropilab.com/turneradiffusa.html
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 26, 2015 4:54 PM CST
I don't know if GRIN is more up to date on names, if you click on the species it gives the last update. The problem is with 'authorities', there's more than one authority and they often differ in 'opinion'!

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/splist.pl?12496

GRIN has both accepted, where The Plant List gives var. aphrodisiaca as a synonym, date supplied April 2012 which is more up to date than GRIN.

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/search?q=Turnera+diffusa+

The Plant List:

Collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden enabled the creation of The Plant List by combining multiple checklist datasets held by these institutions and other collaborators.


http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/about/#tropicos

There's been a lot of shaking up of names in the last few years, researchers can now us DNA to check where a plant belongs, or what it really is. Often a plant name is being reverted to the first given name as first in time takes priority, it's not only happening in the plant world but also in the insect world.

I assume the link you gave isn't the seller of your seeds as it doesn't mention the location. Can you post a link to the seller's site?

Another search idea is to search for the 'flora of Suriname', a quick look shows lot of sources but not much info.

I found "The Medicinal Plant Trade in Suriname" but a page search didn't bring up Turnera, Common names might get results.

http://lib-ojs3.lib.sfu.ca:8114/index.php/era/article/viewFi...

Interesting! "A HISTORICAL COLLECTION OF USEFUL PLANTS FROM SURINAME (CA. 1689)."

Under Conclusion:

The Surinam Hermann herbarium is of great importance to the flora and ethnobotany of Surinam. It is the oldest documentation of local names and uses accompanied by actual vouchers from Surinam and contains the first physical evidence of African crops introduced to Surinam.


http://www.hermann-herbarium.nl/The%20forgotten%20Hermann%20...

Lots of resources which might be useful ..

http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/AmerindRef.pdf
[Last edited by JRsbugs - Feb 26, 2015 4:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 26, 2015 5:15 PM CST
A thought has come to me which I am now revisiting, that is there is often two types of flower on one plant, usually being male and female!

So, do we trust what we have read from the so-called experts, or do we think outside the box? We think outside the box! Hilarious!

Look at the two flowers of Turnera ulmifolia, one has the crown, the other doesn't.

http://www.yorku.ca/shore/Turneraceae/tulmifolia.htm

The link is from this site .. 82a T. ulmifolia L. var. ulmifolia

http://www.yorku.ca/shore/Turneraceae/Turneralist%20Jan20%20...

I don't think there's any doubt this species is in Suriname ..

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Turnera+ulmifolia
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
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vitrsna
Feb 26, 2015 11:15 PM CST
The site is: http://www.tropilab.com/companyprofile.html
The company profile describes the relationship between Tropilab and Suriname, according to the President of Tropilab of course.

There are a couple of things i can mention now:

Some sites note that certain species are fragrant (particularly the leaves). My plant has zero fragrance.

Another thing that bothers me is how the flower is constructed. Most flowers shown at the various websites have spaces between the petals. You can see in the original photos at the beginning of the thread that the flower petals of my plant are overlapping and have no spaces at all, and no spaces during any time of the development of the flower. Also, the flowers are always uniform as well as abundant. I would say exactly the same without variation. All the flowers produced seeds...enough seeds to build a house.

I am way behind you because i haven't yet had a chance to read the links. I did read a link that said something like <<if there are 5 of something, and something else (about the crown, i think), then the plant is this and such>>. So i think i need to get back to that link. I do not have plant vocabulary so i do not know what a "crown" is or pistoles or stammen and so on and i have never studied Botany. I need to search the web for a good illustration of the anatomy of a flower that i can reference as i read through the links. This is what is holding me up right now. So you have already done 6 laps and i am not yet out of the gate Rolling my eyes. Maybe, since you have advanced so much, i should start with the link that includes if something and if something else then the plant is this species. After that maybe i should start at the end of the links and work backwards. Everything i've seen and/or read so far tells me the plant is not ulmifolia but i don't have the specifics at hand about why i came to that conclusion.
Ah! I just found a book about plants in my library that has a very nice little illustration of the anatomy of a flower that will help me out...doesn't show what a crown is though so i'll look that up. I think i can find something on the internet that will be more thorough...this book is ancient. Okay off i go... Smiling
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 27, 2015 8:44 AM CST
Thanks for the link, I'll have a nosey around. They say they have their own skilled collecting teams, ho-hum, skilled at what, collecting?! Paid piecemeal? So often words are used to give an impression, and so often those words can easily be skimmed over giving the brain the satisfaction fix it was looking for that what you will be getting is 'correct'. All too often, sellers use a name which people are familiar with, if they are not familiar with it then the likelihood of them mentally attaching to the name doesn't bring a sale, as unfamiliarity is something people shy away from. I need to say that I am not directing my comments at this particular seller, but where there is a chain of supply that chain depends on all the links knowing what they are doing and doing it with utmost honesty.

I have no training in botany either, but like you, if I wanted to understand what terms meant or related to I had to do my research and I've been doing it for a few years now.

I can only think the 'crown' they refer to is the tall parts rising from the centre, with the lower anthers surrounding. There's plenty of good diagrams on the internet. On the following link, in section 'flower structure' you will get a good idea of how a plant is pollinated. The 'stigma' in the illustration you will see best on lily flowers, that is the part which will be fertilised by the pollen held on the surrounding anthers either through natural means or by insects. Anthers are held on top of thin stalks called 'filaments'.

http://generalhorticulture.tamu.edu/HORT604/LectureSupplMex0...

The 'crown' mentioned looks like the middle of a crocus flower, in this Turnera flower the pollen is on the anthers which are lower down around the throat of the flower or the anthers could be non-functional. I linked to photos showing flowers of Turnera ulmifolia where the top flower doesn't have the crown like structure but it does have a short, stubby 'style' which probably has a stigma attached to the top, you can see it if you magnify to 200%. The bottom flower has a very obvious, taller structure in the middle which isn't like the simple style of the first flower.

http://www.yorku.ca/shore/Turneraceae/tulmifolia.htm

As before, I mentioned that some plants have male and female flowers, could this be the case with Turnera ulmifolia? It could be the flowers are both self fertile or "bisexual" as well as "unisexual", a good description on wiki:

A "perfect" flower has both stamens and carpels, and may be described as "bisexual" or "hermaphroditic". A "unisexual" flower is one in which either the stamens or the carpels are missing, vestigial or otherwise non-functional. Each flower is either "staminate" (having only functional stamens) and thus "male", or "carpellate" (or "pistillate") (having only functional carpels) and thus "female". If separate staminate and carpellate flowers are always found on the same plant, the species is called "monoecious". If separate staminate and carpellate flowers are always found on different plants, the species is called "dioecious".


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_reproductive_morphology

Plants have developed means of reproduction to enable them to survive possible naturally devastating events. At this point, it might be a good idea to have a closer look at all the flowers on your plants to see if they all look the same. Think of reproduction in terms of male and female and what the structures would look like, the plant kingdom often follows suit. Whistling If that doesn't stir your imagination, think of plumbing or computer leads where you have male and female connectors. Hilarious!

Even if the seeds were said to be 'wild collected' there's no guarantee of that, given Suriname has a long history of plants coming from other continents there is a possibility of wild escapees. As you mention the uniformity and abundance of your flowers, that is something which points to a hybrid. Lack of fragrance could be another indication as hybrids often lose the fragrance.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Feb 27, 2015 9:58 AM CST
Beverly, your plant looks like one I had appear in my yard a couple of years ago so I will be real curious to hear it's identity. @JRsbugs Janet, this is my plant that someone identified as Yellow Alder (Turnera ulmifolia) Someone told me the plant was an invasive so we yanked it out. Angry I'd uploaded photos to the database but I'm now wondering if my plant is actually T. ulmifolia. I see photos from two other members and the flowers and leaves in those pictures look different than the plant I had. What do you think? My photos will need to be deleted if it's not T. ulmifolia.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
Charter ATP Member Organic Gardener Garden Photography Bee Lover Dragonflies Cat Lover
Butterflies Birds Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Spiders!
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JRsbugs
Feb 27, 2015 11:55 AM CST
I couldn't say for sure Lin, there looks to be a certain plant doing the rounds in the US! The naming of it is suspect.

The photo provided by bamira (Stefan) was taken at the botanical gardens in Berlin so I would take that as a sound ID. The leaves do look narrower. The other photo posted by him I came across on google, but I'm not aware of the credentials of the people who took the photo so take that with a pinch of salt.


Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Feb 27, 2015 2:03 PM CST
Thanks Janet. I will propose to have my photos deleted from that entry then since it's definitely different than the flower in bamira's photo.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
Butterflies Organic Gardener Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter
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vitrsna
Feb 27, 2015 4:32 PM CST
Lin, did your plant have spaces between the petals? or did the petals overlap one another? If you had flowers that overlapped with no spaces between, then you and i probably have/had the same plant. Did you look at the photos at the beginning of the thread of my plant and does it look like yours did? If so, we probably had the same plant. Do you remember if it had fragrant leaves and/or flowers? Some Turnera do and some don't. Mine did not have any fragrance. With @JRsbugs help, i am going to continue searching for sufficient information to be able to make a database entry. It may not be possible if the scientists don't even agree, but i am going to give it a try and i'll keep you informed via the @ feature. If we are successful, we will be the only database on the internet to get it right (as far as i know) Smiling

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