Dactylicapnos torulosa and friends

I’ve been admiring the cheery charms of Dactylicapnos torulosa of late. It’s an annual climber that used to go by the name of Dicentra torulosa before the taxonomy gods wielded their mighty pens, and changed it to Dactylicapnos. Anyway, it’s a tenacious little thing: after climbing to about 6 feet in height, it unfurls it’s yellow, Dicentra-shaped flowers. In time, these give way to twisty red seedpods which are rather decorative in their own right.

As I was contemplating life in general and D. torulosa in particular, I noticed a curious little detail. When the flowers are pollinated, the petals are pushed apart asymmetrically by the developing seed pod. One outer petal goes one way, the other outer petal and both inner petals go the other. You can just about make out the red seed pod poking into the gap in the photo below:

Dactylicapnos torulosa

The way this little process occurs is similar, nay identical, to the way it happens in Capnoides sempervirens:

In Capnoides, which have more of a Corydalis-type flower shape, the outer petals are asymmetrical but it all happens in the same way. One outer petal one way, the other outer petal and the inner petals the other.

The point in hand goes back to a post I did a few weeks ago about the similarity in flower structure across Corydalis, Dicentra and the related genera (ie. Dactylicapnos and Capnoides). Although the Dicentra-type flowers have two planes of symmetry and the Corydalis-type flowers have only one, the way they work and develop are pretty much the same.

Both Capnoides and Dactylicapnos have skinny little seedpods; Dicentra formosa develops thicker seedpods, but the process still follows the same pattern:

Dicentra formosa

I’ll be the first to admit that a post about these little details is quite possibly the product of an obsessive mind, but everyone needs a hobby. If I weren’t down mucking around staring at dead flowers, I might be causing real trouble somewhere else: perhaps stealing avocados from upmarket greengrocers, maybe winning a gold medal in dressage at the Olympics. Who could say?

On that note, I shall end today’s musings. Cheerio!

2 thoughts on “Dactylicapnos torulosa and friends”

  1. My genes are to blame

    If you were to rush out of said upmarket supermarket with your full momentum and arm arm full of avocados, I wonder if the security guards would scatter, one to the left and the rest to the right? Interesting thought.

    1. For enough security guards to be present to achieve an asymmetrical scattering, prior knowledge of my avocado antics must have been necessary: most (upmarket) establishments usually maintain only a light security presence. I fear that your question may only lead to more questions, as is so often the case with such inquisitive thoughts.

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