Moschatel - Wild Flower Finder

MOSCHATEL

TOWNHALL CLOCK

Adoxa moschatellina

Moschatel Family [Adoxaceae]  

month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8May

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8green
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ4
top
petals
petalsZ5
side
sex
sexZbisexual
 
stem
stem8round
 

3rd April 2008, Caldbeck, Cumbria Photo: © Jeremy Roberts
A low plant growing to 15cm, flowers slightly paler green than the leaves.


3rd April 2008, Caldbeck, Cumbria Photo: © Jeremy Roberts
The plant spreads by underground rhizomes in humus-rich damp soils in woods, hedges, and shaded rocky places on mountains.


3rd April 2008, Caldbeck, Cumbria Photo: © Jeremy Roberts
An aberrant flower, it is supposed to have flowers with five petals around the sides. The flowers on this specimen all have four petals!


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
A birds-eye view of a normal Moschatel. The leaves are very fern-like with rounded lobes and a flatish rachis.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Each lobe is terminated by a mucronate reddish tip/


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
A small (c. 6-10mm) pale yellowish-green single compact flowerhead atop each long narrow stalk. Well-formed flowers have four flowers arranged like lighthouse beacons to four points of the compass and a fifth flower pointing directly upwards. The flower on the right has only opened the upper floret, the four side florets still yet to unfold.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Trefoil leaves, albeit asymmetrical and with one or two extra cuts (2 to 3-ternate)


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
4+1 flowers yet to open. The rough texture is due to short tiny hairs. There are small sepals behind each flower, not normally very visible when the flower is open, the number of sepal lobes varying from 3 for lateral flowers and 2 for the terminal flower, which in this birds-eye photograph is foremost.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
A normal flower displaying cubic symmetry. The four lateral flowers normally possess five petals whilst the terminal flower (at the top) normally has but four petals. The number of stamens and and styles also reflects the number of petals in the two types of flower. The shorter sepal lobes can be seen behind each flower.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Another normal flower with 4 flowers around the sides and one atop.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Some flowers may have more than five flowers, this specimen has six flowers which are not arranged symmetrically either, as above.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Some between four and five petals, here one petal of this 6-flowered abnormal specimen has a split personality, but the number of stamens (4 twins) plus 4 stigmas suggest it should have four petals. But on this abnormal specimen this flower is not at the summit where it should be.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers on the sides normally have 5 petals, five stigmas (one from each of 5 ovaries) and 5 pairs of twinned stamens, looking like 10 separate stamens.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The flower at the summit has tetragonal symmetry with only four petals, only four ovaries each with a single stigma and only four twinned stamens looking like eight.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
A side flower with 5 stigmas and 5 pairs of twinned stamens.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
A side floret. Five stigmas plus 5 pairs of twinned stamens.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Leaf-stalks in opposite pairs, with a wide flattish join onto the main stem.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves have a mucronate tip (a fine point at each extremity).


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The mucronate tip and very fine hairs atop leaves.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Typical leaf shape and arrangement.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Twin vascular-bundles (the channelled appearand of the leaf stalks) lead nutrients to both sides of the leaves separately.


14th April 2015, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Adlington, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Hydathodes (Water Stomata) at tip of each leaf pump out excess water (in a process called 'guttation') but they only do so by the expenditure of a lot of mitochodrial energy. Stomata are different in that they are just 'mouth' openings under the control of the plant (and can close) where, when open, gases can come and go as they please including water vapour (but not liquid water), the wanted gases ones with the un-wanted. Hydathodes, on the other hand, are never closed but only exude liquid water when the pump is active; un-wanted salts can also be exuded (whereas stomata cannot get rid of liquid water nor salts).


Uniquely identifiable characteristics: it has five small green flowers atop a short leafless stalk. There are four five-petalled flowers at right-angles facing the four cardinal directions like a Town Hall clock, and a fifth four-petalled flower atop facing skywards. For this reason it is known as TownHall-Clock, your Author knows of no civic clocks with a dial pointing skywards as well. If it is ever found in Walkden, it will strike 13 at 1:00pm. No other flower has this feature. [The number of petals sometimes varies, and so too can the number of flowers atop a stem]. It is not rare, just mostly un-seen.

The leaves are asymmetrical and reminiscent of those of Yellow Corydalis and less so of Wood Anemone with which it may also grow beside, or underneath. The leaves have a small point at each extremity (mucronate tips). The roots, by which it can spread, are rhizhomatous and hollow.

Growing with green flowers in dampish dark conditions typical of woodland in amongst Dog's Mercury you are unlikely to come across this plant by chance, and must actively seek it out. It also grows on mountains and hedgebanks. It flowers early in the calendar, between March and May. Because it is such a low plant, and the flowers are pale lime-green and the leaves only a little darker it is hard to spot, and will eventually get crowded out by taller plants which grow nearby. But it flowers before most of those and if you look for it early enough in the year in ancient woodland, near streams, you may just come across it.

It derives its name Moschatel from the musk-like odour it emits in the dewy evenings, but which is absent if the plant is bruised.

Moschatel was once thought to be the only known member of the Adoxa Family, but it is now known that shrubs (in the Viburnum genus (not to be confused with the Verbena genus) also belong to the Adoxaceae Family.

IRIDOID GLYCOSIDES


Moschatel contains several toxic iridoid glycosides, such as Secologanin, Morroniside and Adoxoside. Morroniside may have applications in helping protect against renal damage of those suffering diabetes. Morroniside differs from the iridoid glycosides like Loganin, Secologanin and Aucubin in having the 5-membered ring replaced by a 6-membered ring, and is thus more like a glycoside of a terpenoid. (The Glc denotes the Glucose moiety).


  Adoxa moschatellina  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Adoxaceae  

Distribution
family8Moschatel family8Adoxaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8adoxa
Adoxa
(Moschatel)

MOSCHATEL

TOWNHALL CLOCK

Adoxa moschatellina

Moschatel Family [Adoxaceae]  

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