Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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New Plant Genus Discovered in Texas
Southwest Region, December 8, 2005
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Spotlight on Science at the Smithsonian : Bi-Weekly Newsletter | Vol. 3, No. 20 | 05 December 2005

Vol. 3, No. 20 | 05 December 2005

New Weedy Genus and Species for

Texas Discovered

As a world expert on the plant family Commelinaceae (spiderworts and dayflowers), a group of mainly tropical herbaceous plants, botanist Robert Faden of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is frequently asked to identify specimens and images. These inquiries come from other research institutions, universities, government agencies or private individuals. The 650 or so species of Commelinaceae in the world contain a number of ornamentals for gardens and greenhouses and several significant agricultural weeds. Fifty species of Commelinaceae, of which 35 are native, grow wild in mainland United States, mostly in the eastern and southern states.  Both the useful and troublesome species are often the subjects of inquiries. Faden received one such question from David J. Rosen of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Houston, Texas in July, 2004.  He was asked to confirm the identity of a species of Commelinaceae that apparently had escaped from cultivation and become established as a wild weed in two counties in Texas. When the specimen arrived at NMNH, Faden was able to confirm the initial identification by Rosen that the plant was indeed Gibasis pellucida (bridal veil), a native of Mexico.  This plant, with numerous tiny white flowers, is commonly cultivated, but it is not considered winter hardy in most of the U.S. It was previously known to have been a weed only in Florida.  With this identification in hand, Rosen and his team can help decide how best to handle this unwelcome member of the loved and feared Comelinaceae family.  Rosen and Faden reported the discovery in their recent paper: Gibasis pellucida (Comelinaceae), a new and potentially weedy genus and species for Texas (Sida: 21: 1931-1934. 2005). 

References:  Rosen, David J. and Robert B. Faden: Gibasis pellucida Comelinaceae), a new and potentially weedy genus and species for Texas. Sida: 21:1931-1934. 2005.  Vol. 3, No. 20 | 05 December 2005

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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