Nemophila pedunculata

When Sabine and I were out last week, we found 3 more populations of Nemophila pedunculata (meadow nemophila) growing along Road 21 in southeastern Lane County. They were already blooming on February 18. This is a low growing species that forms prostrate mats in seeps. It does not appear to reach too high up in the mountains. The photo is from last year on Tire Mountain at around 4000′, around as high as I’ve seen it so far.

Note the differences in the sepals of Nemophila pedunculata and N. parviflora

It might be confused with the far more common Nemophila parviflora. The lobed leaves of the latter are usually larger, but they are quite variable and do not always effectively distinguish the two. Nemophila pedunculata also usually has dark purple spots on the corolla lobes. But again, this is not always true.

If you look carefully, however, you can see definite differences in the flower structure, something usually more reliable than color or leaf size. The corolla tube of N. pedunculata is widely flaring, and its calyx lobes are much shorter than the tube. The abruptly narrowed tube of N. parviflora, on the other hand, is pretty much hidden by the much longer calyx lobes that reach out to the edge of the corolla. It was easy to compare them at Tire Mountain where they were reasonably close together.

To be sure this wasn’t just a local population characteristic, I’ve looked at flowers of each from a number of populations, in Lane County at least, and it seems to be a good way to distinguish them.

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