December 09, 2022

That's Not My Name: Episode 1, Gambelia

Sometimes the computer vision is great. Sometimes it's... not. This is my first attempt at writing a "computer vision clean up" guide. Here I will try to teach you to ID genus Gambelia and the many things (mostly Salvia) that are Not Gambelia. Hopefully there will be more more episodes in the series as I have time. Just a little heads up, a lot of these episodes are going to involve cultivated plant observations, simply because in general they have lower rates of correct identification. If you're the type who thinks identifying cultivated plants is a waste of time, maybe this isn't for you.

Genus Gambelia (the plant genus, not the lizard genus of the same name) has two species.* One species, Gambelia speciosa, is endemic to the California Channel Islands of Catalina, San Clemente, and Guadalupe--it does not occur naturally on the mainland. The other species, Gambelia juncea, occurs down the length of the Baja California peninsula and some adjacent islands. (The common name on iNat, Cedros Island Bush Snapdragon, is rather dumb, implying a much smaller range than it actually has. Wikipedia calls it Baja Bush Snapdragon.) Both species are available in horticulture trade in California. G. speciosa is the more popular in gardens. Neither species seems to be much available outside California, although I did find one legitimate observation of a G. speciosa plant in Spain.

*iNaturalist recognizes four species in genus Gambelia, but the rest of the botanical world considers G. rupicola and G. glabrata to be synonyms of G. juncea. That's probably why there are no observations recorded for either one.

Identifying Gambelia

Gambelia speciosa flowers have a closed "mouth" and wide "lips." The plant has bigger, more rounded leaves.
Gambelia speciosaGambelia speciosa
More images of Gambelia speciosa here

Gambelia juncea flowers have narrow "lips", and an open "mouth" that is pale in color on the inside. The plant has small pointed leaves, or sometimes no leaves at all if stressed.
Gambelia junceaGambelia juncea
More images of Gambelia juncea here

Both species have leaves with entire margins (the leaf edges are smooth with no teeth or crenations of any kind) and fine hairs on both stems and leaves.

That's Not Gambelia speciosa

Plants most commonly mistaken for G. speciosa include the red-flowered, small-leaved sages Salvia greggii and Salvia microphylla, plus hort hybrids involving the two. You are justified if you prefer to ID to genus Salvia and call it a day. If you're a perfectionist, keep reading.

S. greggii has leaves with smooth margins. Th center vein is visible but side veins are not prominent. Leaf shape varies, but tends more toward elliptical.

More images of Salvia greggii here

S. microphylla leaves have crenate margins and prominent veins. Again leaf shape varies, but is often more ovoid.

More images of Salvia microphylla here

You will see A LOT of pictures of a sage with flowers that are both red and white, either both colors on a single flower or both colors on a single plant. This is Salvia cultivar 'Hot Lips'. Depending on who you ask it might be considered S. microphylla, or it might be the hybrid of S. microphylla and S. greggii, which is apparently named Salvia × jamensis.

More images of Salvia 'Hot Lips' here

Horticulture is brimming with hybrids involving S. greggii and S. microphylla crossed with each other or with other species of sage. You will see a lot of leaves that do not fall neatly in either camp. I'll let you come up with your own philosophy here, but I tend to put species names on plants that look nearly like the real species, and use ID of just genus Salvia on plants that are ambiguous. You may prefer to use the genus ID more liberally than I do, and that's fine.

And now, through the magic of horticulture, side-by-side images!

S. microphylla LEFT and S. greggii RIGHT

Of course, you're going to see all sorts of other red-flowered plants thrown in--roses, garden geraniums, snapdragons, anything with vaguely the right color. You may ID these or not as your skill permits.

That's Not Gambelia juncea

Luckily, the computer vision works better on Gambelia juncea. The usual confusion here is with another garden plant, Russelia equisetiformis. It has minimal leaves, several stems coming out in a whorl at each node, and a very pendant habit. Note that Russelia flowers have 4 equal lobes, and are usually hanging downwards.

Here is Russelia equisetiformis:

One more image available here

Here they are both together:

Time to Fix Some Observations

Posted on December 09, 2022 01:10 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 9 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment

March 22, 2022

Casper's Botany Blitz 3-20-22

Hi everyone!

I am not the organizer of the event, but nevertheless I thought it would be fun to do a little recap of our blitz yesterday. As of right now, 44 participants have uploaded 1,510 observations of 363 species. (1,407 observations and 316 species are vascular plants.)

People may continue to upload as they get their photos in order. For updated numbers, as well as a map, and stats about top observers, most observed species, etc, click here.

Please help identify observations by clicking here!

Thank you @ronvanderhoff, @miguelgrande, @bugbob, @fmroberts2, and other team leaders.

Feel free to leave comments below.

@cheonggaegori, @kristalwatrous, @ekoberle, @kylegunther, @travis408, @vreinkymov, @mletterman, @face88888, @scenic_stiles, @elorathewitch, @sapienshane, @silversea_starsong, @nossikta, @rachel141, @evalyd, @alison497, @flavoipierre, @alpcan, @onesteward, @tylerder, @sunnyphyta, @docder, @acc123, @ddonovan17, @shelleyshatsnider, @jennifer2994, @mrmaple, @yingjing_xia, @cemcizem, @recrowe, @lauracamp, @keirmorse, @may_flowers13, @explorerdj, @josiebennett, @dansong19, @emylerogers, @etw, @alesoto, @jfrank97, @olivia863

Posted on March 22, 2022 02:15 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 3 comments | Leave a comment

December 07, 2021

You're invited ID-Blitz December 10-11

Are you interesting in doing some identifications this weekend? I am running a short event, the "IDblitz," on December 10 and 11 (UTC). The basic idea is for a group of us to ID as many observations as possible during the 48 hours. At the end I'll announce the total number of IDs made by the group and individually message you with your personal total.

This is a great opportunity to work on IDs in a collaborative environment, with a chance to work with and support other iNat IDers. We will be focusing on IDing unknowns and observations at the Kingdom level, but all efforts at IDing are welcome and will be tracked in the project results. We will also have a collaborative ID link, where you can see the IDs made by other members of the Blitz, and work on improving IDs in areas where you have knowledge and experience.

Sign up is simple, just join the project at least 24 hours before the start of the event (by December 8, midnight UTC.) You can find the project here.

Posted on December 07, 2021 02:15 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 18, 2021

Learn to ID plants

I would be happy to help you learn to ID observations of plants as part of this Thanksgiving weekend match-up:

We can do high levels (What is a monocot? How do I know this is a legume?) or lower levels (is this Encelia californica or farinosa?) for California plants (wild or cultivated). I'm open to suggestions.

Posted on November 18, 2021 09:10 PM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 06, 2021

November 05, 2021

Crete Weed

How do you pronounce Hedypnois rhagadioloides anyway?

Posted on November 05, 2021 03:34 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 9 comments | Leave a comment

October 30, 2021

Identifier's Bingo

Hi friends, you're invited to try out my game:

Posted on October 30, 2021 04:56 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 22, 2021

Help Silverado win the fire followers challenge

Hi everyone. The Silverado Fire Followers project is competing in the Fire Poppy Cup bracket challenge. In order for us to win this week, we are trying for a maximum number of observers, identifiers, and faves. I know it's hard to make observations because a lot of the burn area is not for public access, but if you have a minute, you can help out by adding identifications or faves. Just look through these observations, add at least one ID (even if the observation is RG already) and then hit "favorite" (or press F) on the ones you like especially.


Posted on May 22, 2021 08:02 PM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 29, 2020

Two Koelreuteria species and their seedlings as weeds

Comparison of Adult Trees

Koelreuteria paniculata blooms in early summer (June) and by August is already in fruit. The leaves are once-compound, also called pinnate. Leaflet margins have some notches, with random variation in how deep each notch goes. The seeds are contained in a closed, inflated papery covering which is boxy on top but comes to a point at the bottom. At least on our tree these papery fruits go from pale green to brown without blushing pink.

Koelreuteria bipinnata, as the name suggests, has bipinnate leaves, aka twice compound. Each leaf terminates in a fork. Margins are serrate. The trees bloom in late summer (August) and the fruit will be blushing pink in the fall. I'll have to photograph those when they come. The papery fruit are a different shape than those K. paniculata, more of a winged shape than inflated, and blunt on the bottom.

At this point you might be thinking, what about Koelreuteria elegans? K. elegans is extremely similar to bipinnata, and unfortunately I don't have a specimen to examine. One source told me K. elegans is evergreen while K. bipinnata is deciduous, and another suggested slight differences in leaflet shape and venation. Sounds difficult.

Comparison of Seedlings
Let me start off by noting, K. bipinnata is extremely more weedy than K. paniculata, at least at my location in Southern California. Left alone, the ground under a K. bipinnata tree becomes a carpet of competing seedlings. Even if you don't have a tree, if you've ever received wood chip mulch from an arborist company, any K. bipinnata seeds in it will make your life miserable. They are easiest to kill when under a foot tall. Very small ones can be scuffled with a hoe, and slightly bigger ones pulled by hand. After they get too big, the roots are too strong.

A mess of K. bipinnata seedlings

So here's were things get confusing. K. bipinnata juvenile foliage doesn't look like its adult foliage, and unfortunately looks very much like K. paniculata adult foliage. At younger stages, K. bipinnata leaflets are incised in variable and random scallops. On these recent sprouts, the leaves are small enough to make it very difficult to judge whether the leaf is bipinnate or merely pinnate. Each leaf terminates in a leaflet rather than a fork, even when the seedling has reached a reasonable size.

A newly sprouted K. bipinnata whose leaves are so small the bipinnate form is not clear.

Slightly bigger, but still unclear!

These are old enough to be more bipinnate.

A leaf from the group above.

A group over a foot tall.

A leaf from the group above.

A seedling almost a meter tall, finally showing obvious bipinnate leaves with serrated margins, but still showing the leaf groups terminating in a leaflet.

A leaf from that seedling.

So now, some K. paniculata seedlings. You'll notice the foliage is still confusing regarding whether it is pinnate or bipinnate. Sometimes you'll catch little "wings" of leaf blade along the midrib, especially towards the terminal end.

And now for a little comparison. All the K. paniculata seedlings I found had their leaves much closer together along the stem, giving them more of a rosette shape. I can't tell if this is a real characteristic or an environmental factor. So here we have K. paniculata LEFT and K. bipinnata RIGHT, with the center photo showing both.

Here they are again, just bigger. Starting with K. paniculata and ending with K. bipinnata.

Posted on August 29, 2020 09:18 PM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 4 comments | Leave a comment