Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Caiophora chuquitensis

The Caiophora chuquitensis plant at UConn is starting to produce salmon-orange flowers, about 4 cm in diameter. The blooms are nice, if not as extravagant as the flowers on some other members of the family Loasaceae. The plant reached maturity at only a year old from seed, which leads me to suspect that, like some other plants in the family that I've tried to grow, it is naturally short lived. I'll give it some extra fertilizer and try to keep it going for as long as possible.

Closeup of Caiophora chuquitensis leaf, showing trichomes.

Apart from intricately beautiful flowers, the family Loasaceae is known for its wicked stinging hairs. I've brushed up against the Caiophora once or twice, and it's not as bad as a bee sting, but more painful than stinging nettle. As with stinging nettle, the trichomes in the Loasaceae sometimes have cell walls impregnated with silica (glass, more or less), which break on contact and act like a hypodermic needle to inject toxins.


Julie said...

Oh, my heavens!!! What an interesting plant!!! Be careful around this one!!! :) I love that salmon color! Very intriguing!!!

Matt said...

I try to remember to watch myself when I'm watering near it.

frank said...

a critter had uprooted the plant i picked it up and was promptly stung then looked it up on your site{seed from chile flora) it is now in greenhouse new growth showing maybe it thinks its in its home in Chile