SOLVED: Cantua cearulea?

Fullerton, CA

The horticulture department here at Fullerton College was given cuttings under this name from an old and eclectic garden. I can find nothing on it and have doubts, looking at the other cantua species, that it is accurate. The plant's habit is low and sprawling -- 3 feet high by 6 to 8 feet wide. It appears quite drought tolerant and likes full sun. It is just coming into bloom; the flowers at a bare 1" across and unscented. The leaves are small, heavily textured and sticky. Anyone recognize it? Anyone have a guess?

Thumbnail by bellafortuni
Fullerton, CA

A better shot of the flower and leaves

Thumbnail by bellafortuni
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm not sure what it is, but I am familiar with a couple of Cantua species and can tell you that your plant does not look remotely related to them.

Fullerton, CA

I agree. Unfortunately, the old gentleman, a great friend of the department, passed away recently and we are at the mercy of his notes. The plant card was marked "a rarity"

Thumbnail by bellafortuni
Fullerton, CA

It was suggested that this is something in the Barleria family -- while there is some resemblance in the flower, I find nothing similar to the leaf.

Bretten, Germany

No idea yet?

Fullerton, CA

No; it's a beautiful plant and quite the mystery.

Fullerton, CA

bump

Bretten, Germany

Do the leaves have a smell , when ribbed?

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4a)

For some reason the leaves look familiar to me but the flowers are very different?

Bretten, Germany

...bump.....

Fullerton, CA

"Do the leaves have a smell , when ribbed?"

No, they are scentless.

Bretten, Germany

What a bummer, nobody could help yet?

Did the plant set seeds and would it be possible to propagate by seeds?

Fullerton, CA

I have not seen any sign of seeding; it props readily with 200 strength dip-and-grow hormone.

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4a)

Maybe you can try looking up South Africa and Australia native plants? There's so much plant species from those two contients.

Billingshurst, United Kingdom

Does anyone know enough about floral formulae to hazard a guess at the family? We've got a good view of a flower. I'd need to spend a day with my nose in a book, which isn't going to happen but I think if we could establish the family
( or range of close families) it would help a lot.
Sort of looks Geraniaceae to me but thats probably way off the mark

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4a)

For me, I am guessing Malvaceae The flowers have five petals, possible tepals. There are a good size ovary in the middle of the flower so it look more like hibiscus. Even the unopened flowers are in a twist like a hibiscus. For the leaves I believe they are alternative, also an characteristic of Malvaceae.

Here's some info from wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvaceae



Interesting the only image I could find of Cantua cearulea were the exact same image on freeimage.com. Otherwise the other cantuas are more strongly resemble fuschia in flowers (tubular flowers) - in fact one species, Scarlet Gilia, Ipomopsis aggregata have the old sy name Cantua aggregata so there are no way the mystery plant can be in the Cantua family.

Billingshurst, United Kingdom

The unopened flower bud does really look amazingly like Malvaceae but I wasn't sure that there was a big enough thing happening in the middle with the carpels and styles. Also the petals of herbaceous Malvaceaea usually seem to be flat or indented at the tips.
A book I have says Malvaceae is most closely related to Cistaceae and Thymelaeaceae. Worth checking out?

Bretten, Germany

Malus, this is a very good tip with the Polemonium family....Cantua caerulea comes from Mexico...

Maybe the plant name really is Cantua caerulea: http://books.google.de/books?id=9GNcjtgVbXgC&pg=PA80&lpg=PA80&dq=Cantua+caerulea&source=bl&ots=YvuoXeXHSz&sig=xZJS36DNuoa252_b_7EJwDTphqk&hl=de&ei=gklIS4_IG9HH_gbGk7mYAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CCAQ6AEwBzgU#v=onepage&q=Cantua%20caerulea&f=false

#9 : Cantu à fleurs bleues (Hoitzia caerulea) means blue flowers. Perhaps anybody can translate from French into your language?

Bretten, Germany

Mr_Canthus, indeed, the leaves reminded me all the time of a Cistus spec. but couldn't find out, which one.

Billingshurst, United Kingdom

Trouble is may be that, in my experience anyway, Malvaceae, Cistaceae and thymelaeaceae don't have blue flowers.. Malva, Alcea, Lavatera etc.. then Cistus, Helianthemum, Halimium... then Daphne, Edgworthia.
Just thought of Hibiscus syriacus 'Bluebird' though..........this all conjecture.
I'm just going to check out what family Cantua is in

Billingshurst, United Kingdom

Ah Yes I see..Polemoniaceae but I've just checked the description of Cantua in 'The Botanical Garden' by Roger Phillips and Martin Rix ( a pretty sound book I reckon) and it only mentions reds and pinks and orange and tubular flowers

Billingshurst, United Kingdom

Just been checking some photos of other Polemoniaceae, e.g. Phlox and that twisting effect in the opening flowers is definitely there . Also the 5 petals and 5 stamen (I think) seem to match. Do believe it could be that family.
Anyway...I'll shut up for a bit now

Neiva, Viana do Cast, Portugal

Couldn´t it be some sort of vinca?

Fullerton, CA

I have been out in the field and unable to get back to this thread till now -- thank you to all who have chimed in. Following up the Encyclopédie méthodique note, I found a plant listing from Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens:

Polemoniaceae: Cantua coerulea
collected by J. M. Porter in Peru, near Volcan Misti, Prov. Arequipa

No image or descriptive information, but the old boy we got the plant from was a long time member and supporter of the garden, so maybe that was his source. I will give them a call on the morrow and see if they can confirm it.

Fullerton, CA

From "Flora of Peru":
Huthia coerulea Brand, Bot. Jahrb. 42: 175. 1908.
Erect, branching shrub to 1 m. tall, glandular-pubescent throughout. Leaves alternate and usually fasciculate, 0.5-3.5 cm. long, 1-6 mm. wide, sessile to short-petioled, linear to linear-lanceolate, deeply pinnatifid, the segments obtuse to obovate, revolute; the uppermost bract-like leaves sometimes entire, or the upper one entire and the lower partly pinnatifid; flowers short-pedicellate, usually few in terminal or axillary corymbs, sometimes solitary in leaf axils; corolla funnelform, blue or blue-violet, glabrous, 2-3 cm. long, usually 2-3 times longer than the calyx, corolla lobes irregularly obovate, almost half the length of the corolla; calyx tubular to tubular-campanulate, glandular-pubescent, 7-12 mm. long, the lobes acuminate; stamens included, inserted on tube at a point about 5-7 mm. above its base, filaments densely papillose-hirsute with longer pubescence at base; ovary oblong-ovoid, glabrous; style included, 1.5-2.5 cm. long; mature capsule oblong-ovoid, glabrous, 0.5-1 cm. long, exceeded by the calyx lobes; seeds numerous, brown, narrowly winged, trigonous, to 2.5 mm. long.
Arequipa: On slopes of Misti Volcano

I have not heard back from Rancho, but this seems to be what Porter is now calling Cantua coerulea. The description doesn't look right to me, but I will have to defer to someone better at taxonomy and structure.

Fullerton, CA

For comparison with the Huthia description

Thumbnail by bellafortuni
Bretten, Germany

So confusing Nomenclatural changes in CANTUA page 34 :

http://www.rsabg.org/research/Porter/pdfs/Porter&Prather2008.pdf

Fullerton, CA

Interesting; unfortunate that no images are given for C. volcanica. From the given illustrations, there seems little resemblance to the leaf structure or bloom arrangement.

Fullerton, CA

I have just had confirmation from Mr. Porter that this is indeed Cantua volcanica found at Misti volcano in southern Peru.

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