Saturday, March 13, 2021

Bergamo Wall Plants – Purple Rock Cress and Evergreen Candytuft

Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress – via Castagneta Bergamo.Iberis sempervirens - Evergreen Candytuft – via Sudorno, Bergamo.
Left: Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress – via Castagneta Bergamo.
Right: Iberis sempervirens - Evergreen Candytuft – via Sudorno, Bergamo.


The purple and pink flowered plants we believe to be Aubrieta deltoidea or cultivars, such as 'Red Cascasde'. These plants are commonly called Purple Rock Cress. In Italian, the common name is Aubrezia, a variant of the genus name. The genus name honors Claude Aubriet (1651/65 – 1742), a French illustrator and botanical artist. The species epithet likely refers to the leaf shape, deltoid or kite shape.

Purple Rock Cress is a mat-forming evergreen, with small oval-shaped lobed leaves and flowers in shades of pink and purple. These photos of Rock Cress were taken on Via Castagneta on a wall with southern exposure, which may explain why they seem to be blooming early.

The white-flowered plant is Iberis sempervirens – commonly called Evergreen Candytuft or Perennial Candytuft. This particular plant is on a wall in Via Sudorno, near where the Lo Scorlazzino (small stair-climb) meets Lo Scorlazzone (big stair-climb). The genus name Iberis refers to the Iberian Peninsula where many members of the genus are native. The species epithet means "always green".

  • Digression 1: We run and walk by this plant a lot. When we come up Lo Scorlazzino and are out of breath we are face to face with this Candytuft, which is all to say we've stared at this Candytuft enough that we are on a first name basis with it.
  • Digression 2: In a recent book, Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, the American theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek gives an estimate "that we process and 'understand' about a hundred billion distinct scenes in a lifetime." If we have seen Candytuft 1000 times in our lifetime, which is not unlikely, then that's 1e-3 divided by 1e-11 or about 0.0001 % of our image bank is occupied by Candytuft. Let's call the the Candytuft number.
  • Digression 3: Candytuft reminds us of Seattle. The first time we became aware of it was on the south side of a small standard issue craftsman house in Seattle: white cedar siding and one foot of exposed foundation cement, painted dark green. Nestled up against the foundation was a big Candytuft, which always seemed to be in bloom. And like this Candytuft on via Sudorno, we always seemed to be walking by it. Can it be that Candytufts are manipulative in where they get themselves planted so they can be seen?
  • Digresssion 4: Why the name Candytuft? According to the Wikipedia entry for Iberis, which references Oxford English Dictionary, "[t]he name 'candytuft' is not related to candy, but derives from Candia, the former name of Iraklion on the Island of Crete."

Both Purple Rock Cress and Candytuft aren't super common (say like Pellitory of the Wall or Pennywort) when walking around Bergamo, but every now and then you see them on a wall. Both of these plants are in the Brassicaceae family, known as the mustard or cabbage family. Many important and delicious veggies (that we are on first name basis with) come from the Brassicaceae family as well as the "drosophila of the plant world", Arabidopsis thaliana, which we posted about (really in 2009!),  Arabidopsis Thaliana – Mouse-ear cress.

A list of our wall plants of Bergamo thus far:

  •  Aubrieta deltoidea – Purple Rock Cress, Iberis sempervirens – Candytuft
  • Geranium robertianum (post) - Stinking Bob
  • Erigeron karvinskianus (post) - Mexican Fleabane
  • Asplenium ceterach (post) - Rustyback Fern
  • Asplenium ruta-muraria (post) - Wall Rue
  • Asplenium trichomanes (post) - Maidenhair spleenwort
  • Parietaria diffusa (post) – Pellitory
  • Cymbalaria muralis (post) - Pennywort

 

Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress, a pink cultivar? – via Castagneta.Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress – via Castagneta, Bergamo.
Left two photos: Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress, a pink cultivar? – via Castagneta, Bergamo.
Right two photos: Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress – via Castagneta, Bergamo.


Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress – via Castagneta, Bergamo.Iberis sempervirens - Evergreen Candytuft – via Sudorno, Bergamo.
Left two photos: Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress – via Castagneta, Bergamo.
Right: Iberis sempervirens - Evergreen Candytuft – via Sudorno, Bergamo.

2 comments:

  1. Poor Stinking Bob. What a name to live with for the rest of your life. And don’t you think there should be a “Tony Sportwort” or something similar?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Agreed on Tony Sportwort. Question: does it make you more sporty or less?

    ReplyDelete

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