Today’s photograph for the “Plants of the North” series is courtesy of Chris Czajkowski. Local readers will likely be familiar with Chris from her books, but she also operates an eco-tourism business at Nuk Tessli. I’m going to guess that today’s image is likely the first one sent to me for BPotD via solar-powered satellite Internet! Thank you, Chris!
I’m always intrigued by a mystery. While Potentilla villosa or alpine cinquefoil is reported throughout British Columbia (and parts of Washington) as well as into Alaska and northeastern Asia, that information doesn’t quite jibe with a recent re-examination of the genus Potentilla. In “The Potentilla villosa–uniflora Group in northwestern North America” (published in Botanical Electronic News 390), authors Elven and Murray describe the distribution of this species as:
“Potentilla villosa is distinctly coastal with very few records above 50 msm, and it is apparently without a preference for base-rich substrates. The southernmost occurrences are in northwestern Washington, the northernmost in western Alaska south of Seward Peninsula. It is much more restricted in the north than mapped by Hultén (1968).“
So, it seems like changes are afoot and the plants in this population of Potentilla may one day have a different name (and as an aside to Chris: now that I’ve seen the article by Elven and Murray, I suggest you send them your photograph of that mystery Potentilla you found!).