Commelina dianthifolia

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Birdbill Dayflower - Commelina dianthifolia
South of Iron Creek Campground
Black Range, NM, USA
August 12, 2016

On August 12, 2016, we were hiking south of Iron Creek Campground, along NM-152 in the Black Range, trying - unsuccessfully - to get some exercise before being caught by a thunderstorm and getting quite wet.  The hillsides had a significant number of plants in bloom, including the Birdbill Dayflowers, Commelina dianthifolia, shown here.  This species was first described by Alire Raffeneau Delile in 1812.

As shown in the BONAP range map to the right, this species has a limited range in the United States.  Light green indicates that the species is native to the county and “not rate”.  It is also found in northern Mexico.

There are two varieties of this species, the nominate form, and C. d. var. longispatha which is not found in Texas.  Because these two varieties overlap so broadly some argue that it is not useful to continue to recognize these varieties.

C. d. var longispatha was first described by George Bentham as Commelina linearis.  John Torrey later added the varietal name of longispatha and the current description of this variety was first made by C. K. Brashier in 1966.  Other synonyms include C. dianthifolia var. filiformis and C. dianthifilia var. longispatha.  The daguerreotype of Torrey, right, was taken in 1840.  

The Keres used an infusion of this species to strengthen individuals with tuberculosis.

As shown to the right, the flower is rarely very white.  On Friday we found blue and white flowers in close proximity. The website for the Arizona - New Mexico Chapter of SEINet has photographs of white flowers from the same general locale.

The specimen shown below is another one of those collected as part of the US-Mexican Boundary Survey “under the direction of Major W. H. Emory, Commissioner, chiefly in the Valley of the Rio Grande, below Doñana - by C. C. Parry, M.D., J. M. Bigelow, M.D., Mr. Charles Wright, and Mr. A. Schott.”  In the lower left hand corner of the specimen sheet it is noted, however, that the specimen was collected at Santa Rita, New Mexico - roughly 20 miles west of where these photographs were taken.

Railroad Canyon and Iron Creek Campground are very close together.


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Photo immediately above and those below:
Railroad Canyon Black Range, NM, USA
August 22, 2013

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© Robert Barnes 2018