Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

February 16, 2016: Botany Photo of the Day will return this spring with a new format similar to the new UBC Botanical Garden web site. In the meantime, please enjoy the restored content!

Inula magnifica

Inula magnifica
Inula magnifica

To start off the next hundred Botany Photo of the Day entries, I'm going to share a series of black-and-white photographs. These are probably not to everyone's taste, so I'm going to also include the original or companion photographs when possible.

Today's photographs are of Inula magnifica, or elecampane. The black-and-white image reveals a different perspective on the opening “flower” (colour version for comparison). To me, it resembles a number of figures witnessing the formation of a new galaxy, but perhaps you'll see something different.

What is commonly called the “flower” in members of the family Asteraceae is botanically known as a capitulum. The capitulum is an aggregation of many florets, with each floret representing what we typically recognize as a flower (but wrought in miniature). In the case of Inula magnifica, the spidery outer “petals” are individual flowers technically known as “ray florets”. Ray florets are often sterile - I suspect that's the case for Inula, although I need to verify that. Moving inward to the centre of the capitulum, each of the small units is a ”disc floret”; disc florets can be either bisexual, containing fully-developed male and female flower parts, or male, so that only the stamens are functional. The South African National Biodiversity Institute has more on the morphology of flowers of the Asteraceae.

Interested in the plant for your garden or want specimen photographs? Texas A&M University's Horticulture web site has a detailed account of Inula magnifica, while an article entitled “Beauty Fades” in the Seattle Times laments the appearance of this plant in autumn: “the less-than-elegant look of its huge, withering carcass”.

If you are curious to know how the black-and-white image was made (no, it's not just a quick conversion to greyscale!), check out this article from Nature Photographers Online Magazine, which discusses using channels in Adobe Photoshop to convert colour images to black-and-white. If you want to know what I specifically did, post a comment and I'll share.

In garden news, the Washington Post has an article about “The Jade Garden”, entitled “The Latest Export from China - Garden Plants” (registration required). My only gripe is that the article links to nursery web sites instead of the garden's site, but otherwise Adrian Higgins is again in fine form: “Western explorers to China's remote regions form a pantheon of horticultural Indiana Joneses.” Worth a read!


I just want you to know I am crazy about your Botany Photo Of The Day. I look forward daily to what you have posted. The content is refreshing, knowledgable, and a time to wonder at natures miracles. Thank You for a constant job well done.

I did not see all of the first 100, having recently subscribed. Here is to the next 100. thanks, DM.

I love the black & white along with the color. Enjoying these photos is a highlight of my day. I've taken my camera back out and begun photographing again. Thanks

breathtaking and informative...thank you!

I can see why it's called "Magnifica"!

I just wanted to tell you that your photos are the FIRST things I look for when I sign on in the mornings before work.

Your hard work and dedication to this project are certainly appreciated and well loved.

Thank you again!

I always think the bud looks like a ball of yarn that has had the end stuffed into the middle. The bud stage is my favourite time with Innula.

hallo, is it possibile to have the english common name of:
inula hirta
inula spiraeifolia
thank you.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4
Tel: 604.822.3928
Fax: 604.822.2016 Email:

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia