Misleading Photo in "Bulbs of North America"

Rodger Whitlock totototo@pacificcoast.net
Fri, 19 Mar 2004 19:20:46 PST
Double-barreled message to alpine-l and pbs list.

Plate 55 in "Bulbs of North America" purports to show a specimen of
Erythronium revolutum with mottled leaves. Indeed, there are flowers
that look like E. revolutum in the middle background, and leaves
with prominent mottling in the foreground.

The fly in the ointment is that those foreground leaves aren't from
the same plant as the flower scape. The foreground leaves are almost
certainly a form of E. dens-canis -- the manner of mottling and the
shape of the leaves are characteristic of that species.

The photo does show leaves in the middle background that probably are
those of E. revolutum, and there is some mottling visible on them.
Again, the leaf shape and style of that mottling are diagnostic of a
west-coast species rather than E. dens-canis.

The photo is attributed to Molly Grothaus, who has been dead for some 
years; was it published after her death?

The risk is that unless a reader has more than passing familiarity 
with Erythronium foliage, he or she may very well start identifying 
pink forms of E. dens-canis as E. revolutum "because the leaves are 
the same as the picture in the book." This is a mistake I have seen 
before under other circumstances, and can endlessly confuse novices.

I suggest that those possessing this interesting and extremely
valuable book make an annotation next to plate 55 warning of the

Footnote: while I refer to E. dens-canis, the interloper could be one 
of the erythronium species from eastern North America, which have 
very similar foliage.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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