Sunday, August 02, 2015

Plains Coreopsis

Weather: Great amounts of rain have been forecast, but all we got this wee was clouds and moisture laden air that kept soil water from evaporating; last rain 7/29.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid tea roses, bird of paradise, fernbush, buddleia, silver lace vine, trumpet creeper, rose of Sharon, hollyhock, datura, sweet pea, alfalfa, Russian sage, annual four o’clock, bouncing Bess, purple garden phlox, red amaranth, farmer’s single sunflowers, coreopsis, blanket flower, yellow yarrow, zinnias, brome grass.

Beyond the walls and fences: Trees of heaven, buffalo gourd, yellow mullein, goat’s head, white sweet clover, bindweed, green-leaf five-eyes, white prairie and yellow evening primroses, Queen Anne’s lace, Hopi tea, plains paper flower, horseweed, wild lettuce, flea bane, gumweed, goldenrod, áñil del muerto, strap leaf, golden hairy and purple asters, ring muhly grass.

In my yard: Rugosa roses, yellow potentilla, Saint John’s wort, California poppy, snow-in-summer, coral beard tongue, lady bells, catmints, calamintha, blue flax, larkspur, winecup mallow, pink evening primrose, Mexican hat, black-eyed Susan, chocolate flower, bachelor button, white yarrow, purple coneflower, Mönch aster, reseeded Sensation cosmos.

Bedding plants: Sweet alyssum, snapdragon, pansy, moss roses, marigold, gazania.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, hummingbirds, chickadee, and other small birds, geckos, bumble and small bees, hornets, ants; mosquitoes have hatched.

Weekly update: Mail order companies like to send free samples, although the last successful product promotion was the Delicious apple in 1895.

Wildseed Farms, of Fredericksburg, Texas, sends a seed mix, which I dutifully plant, usually with no results. The exception was 2012 when some plains coreopsis sprouted under a leaky hose connection. That wasn’t where I planted the seed. I assume it washed down the hose line.

I bought some seeds the next year and planted them in the same place. Only a few germinated. I tried again last year in a different location. Nothing. This year, with all the late spring rain, last year’s seed not only germinated, but the flowers have varied in coloring.

Coreopsis tinctoria was identified by Thomas Nuttall in 1819 in Arkansas Territory. The fibrous roots grow along the Missouri and both sides of the Mississippi south of their confluence near Saint Louis. In New Mexico, Augustus Fendler saw the yellow and mahogany notched flowers east of the Mora river, "between Coon Creek and Pawnee Fork in shallow hollows in the prairies, said to have been made by the buffaloes in wallowing."

Buffalos did roll, but wallows tended to be natural depressions that collected water and were enlarged by the animals. No doubt their shaggy coats collected seeds, which could have been deposited along the waterways west of the Mississippi.

Plains coreopsis also appears in clusters of contiguous counties that are separated from one another. One rather suspects seeds were purchased, and when found useful were passed from gardener to gardener.

Nuttall told members of the National Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia that "it promises to become the favorite of every garden where it is introduced." He also mentioned it produced a yellow dye. By mid-century, Joseph Breck called it a "a well-known hardy annual." In 1851 the Bostonian offered two varieties, one an ornamental, the other listed as Dyeing Calliopsis.

In New Mexico, Paul Standley discovered the composite near Shiprock on the Navajo reserve early in the twentieth century. Matilda Coxe Stevenson said, "this plant was introduced among the Zuñi many years go by the Navajo for making into a beverage." The Ramah Navajo were using a cold infusion to treat infections caused by lightning, especially enlarged abdomens, in the early 1950s.

Both groups incorporated it into their ritual lives. Navajo administered it during the Waterway Chant, a subgroup within the Shooting chants. Among the Zuñi, it was "drunk by women desiring girl babies." The Zuñi also used kia’naitu flowers with other florets to dye yarn a deep red.

The flowers are delicate when they bob over the tops of over plants. It’s not surprising the seeds spread to Europe and Japan. In China it’s grown as a cut flower and has naturalized in moist sandy or clay soils.

What is surprising is that it reached the Uyghur living in the far northwest Kunlun mountains. They used it in a tea to treat high blood pressure and diarrhea. Chinese scientist have tested the plant and discovered the link was the red pigments that made it a natural antioxidant.

Notes: For more on the promotion of the Delicious apple, see the post on "Orchards" for 14 August 2012.

Breck, Joseph. The Flower-Garden, 1851, reprinted by OPUS Publications, 1988.

Gray, Asa. "Plantae Fendleriane Novi-Mexicane," American Academy, Memoirs 4:1-116:1849.

Li, Ning, et alia. "Anti-Neuroinflammatory and NQO1 Inducing Activity of Natural Phytochemicals from Coreopsis tinctoria," Journal of Functional Foods 17:837-846:2015.

Li, Yali, et alia. "Flavonoids from Coreopsis tinctoria Adjust Lipid Metabolism in Hyperlipidemia Animals by Down-regulating Adipose Differentiation-related Protein. Lipids in Health and Disease 13:193:2014.

Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbarium eFloras project. Flora of China website entry for Coreopsis tinctoria.

Nuttall, Thomas. "A Description of Some New Species of Plants Recently Introduced into the Gardens of Philadelphia from the Arkansas Territory," Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Journal 2:114-138:1821.

Stevenson, Matilda Coxe. Ethnobotany of the Zuñi Indians, 1915.

Vestal, Paul A. Ethnobotany of the Ramah Navaho, 1952.

Wooton, Elmer O. and Paul C. Standley. Flora of New Mexico, 1915.

Wyman, Leland C. "Navajo Ceremonial System" in Alfonso Ortiz, Handbook of North American Indians, volume 10, 1983.

Yao, Xincheng, et alia. "Comparative Study on the Antioxidant Activities of Extracts of Coreopsis tinctoria Flowering Tops from Kunlun Mountains, Xinjiang, North-Western China," Natural Product Research 17 March 2015.

Photographs: Plains coreopsis in my yard.
1. Where it planted itself, 16 July 2012.
2. Flower and bud, dark area smaller than normal, 16 July 2015.
3. Red flower, 24 July 2015.
4. Seed capsules, 24 July 2015.
5. Close-up of flower with normal color pattern, 24 July 2015.
6. Leaves disappear and the base, and persist on the stems, 24 July 2015.

No comments: