…and yet another thank you to frequent BPotD contributor Jim in San Francisco (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr) for submitting today’s set of photographs (original image 1 | original image 2 | original image 3 | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). As always, I’m grateful.
I’ve been intrigued by this species both times I have visited the Montane Cloud Forest at UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Who wouldn’t be curious about something known as the devil’s hand tree or monkey’s hand tree? Unfortunately, I’ve only visited this garden in early April, too early to see the “handedness” of this native of wet mixed oak-pine and deciduous mountain forests of Guatemala and Oaxaca, Mexico. All I was able to observe were last year’s aging seed pods on the ground (for photograph, see the last image on this page).
Chiranthodendron literally means “hand-flowering tree”, while the epithet pentadactylon means “five-fingered” — referring to the five prominent stamens that can be seen in these photographs. Pollinators attracted to the flowers include both bats and perching birds, particularly orioles and their relatives. Chuck B. of San Francisco writes about the sweet taste of the nectar produced by the flowers at the conclusion of his weblog post on Friday Night Botanical Garden.
A French translation of the original 1805 Spanish-written description of Chiranthodendron pentadactylon is available online thanks to the Smithsonian Library’s Digital Library: Description Botanique du Chiranthodendron by José Dionisio Larreátegui Two illustrative plates are included, linked from the bottom right-hand of this page.
Ethnobotany resource link: The Gwich’in Ethnobotany Database was recently launched, containing information about 47 plants used for food, medicine, shelter and tools (with photographs, video and recipes). Thank you to Dr. David Brownstein for sending along the link.