MARSH CINQUEFOIL

Comarum palustre

Formerly : Potentilla palustris
Rose Family [Rosaceae]  

month8May month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8red
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round

Iceland Photo: © Philip Draper
The leaves are trefoil, long and narrow.


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
As yet un-opened flower buds, sepals still green, but will turn a deep-red before opening.


25th June 2009, Bucks. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
The five sepals are a deep-red and pixie-hat pointed. Un-opened flower buds look very Rose-like.


Iceland Photo: © Philip Draper
The petals are much narrower and 2/3rds the length of the larger and much wider sepals. On the left-most flower the petals are, un-usually, protruding between the furled up sepals. Both are beetroot-red coloured.


Iceland Photo: © Philip Draper
Fruit looks very Strawberry-like.


Iceland Photo: © Philip Draper
Note how similar the seeds look to Strawberries (which are in the same Rose Family). The leaves are deeply and coarsely toothed.


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are extremely distinctive with their elliptical shape and reminiscent of those of Great Burnet (but those are single-pinnately branched). They have jagged teeth and are in a 2 plus 3 configuration like those of many leaves belonging to flowers of the Pea Family (Fabaceae) such as Bird's-Foot Trefoil (although there are obvious differences).


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
The obverse of the leaves are a much greyer green, and despite some books, most definitely slightly hairy, some hairs quite long, others much shorter, but all extremely fine. The leaf normally has three leaflets at the end, plus two others set opposite and a little way back.


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
The tips of the leaf teeth are reddish.


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
Braches house an emergent flowering stem behind a small veil.


ABNORMAL FASCIATED EXAMPLES

 Mutations Menu

26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
This specimen is fasciated, with an elongated growing centre forcing the flower to curl over. Two un-opened flower buds look normal, so far, but they may yet be about to grow sideways as has the top-most flower.


5th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
Two fasciated flowers, although not yet fully open the bi-lateral (rather than radial) nature is immediately apparent, as well as the multiplication of the number of petals and sepals. Bright red discs (anthers) are peering out and seem much larger than those on non-fasciated examples. The green centre will turn a lighter shade but the short projections will turn deep-red.


26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
The elongated centre is clearly visible in these two specimens. Note the red lollipop-shaped enlarged anthers and the white striped fly. Small projections on elongated inner now deep-red.


26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
The centre has grown so much as to push the petals to both sides like the relativistic jets emerging from both sides of a quasar.


26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
Not only has the width of the flower elongated into a 'toilet brush' shape, but the number of petals and the wider sepals have similarly multiplied. Note the two buff-coloured bugs.


26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
Usually with five beetroot-coloured tepals? and five much narrower sepals, this one has six of each and a suspicious seemingly-enlarged centre, although this specimen may be relatively normal (apart from the hexagonal symmetry) and not fasciated?


26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
All sorts of flies and beetles seem eager to get at the enlarged centre.


26th June 2013, Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton. Photo: © RWD
A couple of flies attend each side of the hemi-toroidal centre of a fasciated specimen. It is not known whether the flies are attracted to the abnormal growth or whether they may have caused it in some way.


Superficial resemblance to : Munich Cranesbill but only because of their dark colours; they have a differing number of petals and grow in totally different places.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics: No other flower has such deep red to beetroot coloured and pointed sepals (resembling petals) in so striking a star shape.

Marsh Cinquefoil has been moved out of the Potentilla (Cinquefoil) genus with all the other Cinquefoils and Tormentils and moved into a new Genus Comarum where it now sits all alone.

Marsh Cinquefoil grown in very wet marshes, fens, bogs and swamps. Being a member of the Rose Family, it has five deep red very narrowpetals, which are backed by five browner, broader and larger pointed sepals. But just like those of Strawberry (another member of the Rose Family) it has multiple seeds which look very reminiscent of strawberries.

The five to seven leaves are deeply toothed, of unequal length and arranged deceptively palmate on the ends of stalks. The tips of the teeth may be red/beetroot tinged. The plant is said to be 'hairless' (although the leaves do seem to have a very short felt to the Authors eyes, which is probably why they are not shiny).

In regard to the half-fasciated plants at the gravel quarries, where the flowers seem normal until they open when they seemingly develop a strong elongated shape due to fasciation, the Author has a theory. Some strange flies seem to take great interest in the enlarged bit of the fasciated flowers, perhaps feeding off some nectar or nutrient it might be producing. But the flowers all seem normal until opened. The Author wonders whether the flies, on finding a just opening flower, are actually causing the flower to develop abnormally, perhaps by purposefully damaging the meristem tissue - the growing centre of the flower. If this is so, then it appears that the flies are farmers, attending a crop and then deliberately causing a mutation in the flowers to later harvest the profits of their labour. Is this so far fetched? Or are the flies just opportunistic and not deterministic?

[Note that in the photographs there are three different species of flies/bugs (not one of which the Author has been able to identify) attending the fasciated parts].

The Author will let the reader decide, for he has no real idea. He will go and monitor the group of Marsh Cinquefoil to see if they eventually all turn out to be fasciated. And indeed, what the fasciated end product - the fruits - look like. Red bananas anyone?


  Comarum palustre  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Rosaceae  

Distribution
family8rose family8Rosaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8comarum
Comarum
(Marsh Cinquefoil)

MARSH CINQUEFOIL

Comarum palustre

Formerly : Potentilla palustris
Rose Family [Rosaceae]  

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