With permits in hand, I’m off to southwest Oregon and northern California on a collecting expedition in a week’s time. I’ll be joining colleagues from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Howick Hall Gardens of Northumberland. These photographs are from last autumn’s expedition through southwestern British Columbia with the same institutions.
In the second photograph, Ben Stormes, UBC Botanical Garden’s Curator of North American Gardens, is collecting fruits from hairy manzanita. Arctostaphylos columbiana was previously featured on Botany Photo of the Day, with photos of flowers and habitat–these two images help round out other aspects of the plant.
This population of plants along Sproat Lake seemed to be distinctly Arctostaphylos columbiana. Somewhat like the hybridization situation of the species of Phyllodoce from last month, the shrubby Arctostaphylos columbiana will hybridize with low, prostrate groundcover Arctostaphylos uva-ursi when grown in proximity, forming the hybrid Arctostaphylos × media. Perhaps unlike the Phyllodoce spp., however, this intermediate first-generation cross can re-hybridize with the parents, forming off-spring that express a mixed set of traits (and can then again cross with the parents or other hybrids).
This was the case with the population of plants we located on a roadside near Port Alberni, en route to Carmanah Provincial Park. Here we found a hybrid swarm. Each individual plant was just that–an individual plant with a mixed set of characteristics somewhere between the extremes of the two parent species. In addition to collecting seed from this hybrid swarm population (you never know what you’ll get!), Ben also took cuttings. The propagated plants from these vegetative cuttings will closely match the characteristics of the individual source hybrid plant, with differences due largely in part to environmental factors.
Also as noted in the previous entry, Arctostaphylos columbiana is natively found from British Columbia to California, with a habitat and elevational range of:
Chaparral, gaps and margins of conifer forests along coast, sometimes extending inland, open areas around rock outcrops; 0-1000(-1400)m [to 4600 ft.];
Many additional photographs are available from the Burke Museum: Arctostaphylos columbiana.