Sunday, January 29, 2012

Binomen Art - Sporobolus virginicus

Beach Dropseed, Sporobolus virginicus - Galápagos Islands
Beach Dropseed, Sporobolus virginicus, is a grass common throughout tropical regions and native to the Pacific Islands Region. Despite what the common name might conjure up, the USDA Fact Sheet for this grass says that though S. virginicus produces seed, very little of it is viable and propagation by vegetative rhizomatous slips being the only practical method. However, the generic name, according to CRC - Plant Names, comes from the Greek spora, sporos “seed, spore” and ballo, bolis, bolos “casting” and referring to the dropping and dispersion of the seeds.
Beach Dropseed, Sporobolus virginicus - Galápagos IslandsBeach Dropseed, Sporobolus virginicus - Galápagos Islands

We saw this patch of S. virginicus during our two days in Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island (Galápagos Islands) near the Hotel Sol (lat -0.9585, long -90.9645 or 0d 57’ 31” S, 90d 57’ 52” W) on Dec 31st, 2011 and Jan 1st, 2012. We only spelled out “sporobolus” because we ran out of time and we weren’t sure of the species. Back home, we could poke around a bit on the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) for the different species of Sporobolus which then references the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh’s Herbarium Catalogue. In the catalogue, we could zoom into S. tenuissimus (E00357355) and S. virginicus (E00217518). Viginicus seems likely, but we are declaring victory even if we are wrong because of the idea that we could view herbarium sheets and even try to decide.

Royal Edinburgh Herbarium Sheets for S. virginicus and S. tenuissimus
Royal Edinburgh Herbarium Sheets for S. virginicus Royal Edinburgh Herbarium Sheets for S. tenuissimus

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