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TANSY-LEAVED PHACELIA

PHACELIA

Phacelia tanacetifolia

Borage Family [Boraginaceae]  

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

category
category8Crops
status
statusZalien
flower
flower8mauve
inner
inner8red
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZlowish
contact
contactZmedium

5th July 2012, Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
From afar could be mistaken for a field of Lavender. There were masses of it here, the largest ever gathering the author has ever seen.


12th June 2012, an arable field, Ryton, Shifnal, Shropshire. Photo: © Phil Owen
A native of California, it is often planted in Europe as a green manure in strips of spare arable land. The flowers are also very attractive to the domesticated Honey Bee, Apis mellifera and other bees, hoverflies and wasps both for their masses of blue pollen and for the nectar they also provide.


27th Sept 2011, Stub House Fm, Harewood, Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Planted possibly as a backdrop to some episodes of the TV series Emmerdale Farm, now spreading further afield.


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
At first the flowers could be mistaken for a Mint, they are the same colour and fuzziness, but the leaves are pinnate and nothing like those of a mint.


7th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
The stem looks vaguely similar to Bracken with the hairs and the pinnate leaves.


24th July 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The flowering stalk is at first curled up outwards into a spiral. The buds at the top of the spiral open up into flowers first. Potato Capsid centre.


24th July 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The spent flowers lose their petals and the stem straightens there, leaving flowers nearer the top to open in their turn.


24th July 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
As the flowering stems straighten upwards (and there may be five or six flowering stems) the spent flowers face inwardly. Very few un-upened buds are left to flower; just those hanging down in a tight spiral near the top. Green fruits are beginning to form in the spent flowers at the bottom. Insect top right. At this stage it resembles the tail of a scorpion.


24th July 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Green fruits are beginning to form in the spent flowers at the bottom. The sepals of spent flowers are very long and narrow and resemble a grain such as corn or wheat.


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Vincent Lloyd
The lilac to lilac to mauve-coloured flowers have long projecting stamens.


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Vincent Lloyd
The stamens have small violet anthers on their tips. Flower just about to open right centre; long stamens poised to spring out.


24th July 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
The five long narrow very hairy sepals turn red when the flower is about to burst open.


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
As yet un-opened flower buds.


17th July 2005, field margins, Orkney. Photo: © Derek Mayes
The sepals are very very hairy.


17th July 2005, field margins, Orkney. Photo: © Derek Mayes
A single flower has four quarter-round lilac petals and small indigo anthers atop thin wiry stamens.


7th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
The stem is hairy, the hairs angled downwards. The leaves, pinnate with small leaflets, are covered in fewer but longer hairs.


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
The leaves are twice pinnate, and fern-like.


8th June 2010, a Meadow, East Leicestershire. Photo: © Anita Light
Leaflets small, light-green and asymmetric.


24th July 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The whole plant at Blackleach, planted from a wild-flower mixture, had several Potato Capsid insects crawling amongst the flowers.


Originally listed under the Waterleaf Family (Hydrophyllaceae) but now subsumed into the Boraginaceae which itself is under an un-ranked phylogenetic ORDER.

Some similarities to :  Ferns and to  Mints such as Viper's Bugloss and .

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The mauve, Mint-like flowers with long projecting anthers all on the outer side of an arched stalk.

No relation to : Tansy [a plant with similar name].

From afar frequently mistaken for Lavender or for Perennial Flax (both of which are blue and planted as crops in fields).

It is increasingly to be found in some wild-flower seed mixtures. The sharply pointed rough husks and fibres of the sepals can cause itching and dermatitis in some people, particularly if it gets within shoes and socks.

Grown as a crop in some arable fields both as a green manure to plough into the land and as a flower with great propensity to attract bees hoverflies and wasps, which feed on the nectar and blue pollen. It is a weed supressor and although it does not fix nitrogen from the air, it absorbs and retains nitrogenous substances from the soil preventing leaching into streams or rivers.

Three other Phacelias have not been seen in the UK since 1969, and perhaps as far back as the 1930's. In America, the plant is called Scorpion Weed on account of the scorpion-like tail that the flowers adopt, and perhaps because they also have a sting in their tail: the sharp sepals can be rough on the skin.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia, along with other members of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae) can cause skin irritation on skin contact with the fine hairs.

PRENYLATED QUINONES



Tansy Leaved Phacelia contains several prenylated quinones / hydroquinones which have lipophilic side chains such as geranyl-, farnesyl-, or geranylgeranyl- (benzoquinone). Geranyl-benzoquinone is one such. With their long aliphatic side chains, these compounds have similar toxic properties as do the Urushiols in Rhus Toxicodendron (Poison Oak) with regard to being a contact allergen. Geranylbenzoquinone can alkylate proteins making them allergenic.

The above is just one example of the same series but with hydroquinone as the base. Compare these aliphatic side-chained benzoquinones with Irisquinone in Yellow Iris.


  Phacelia tanacetifolia  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Boraginaceae  

Distribution
 family8Borage family8Boraginaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Phacelia
Phacelia
(Phacelia)

TANSY-LEAVED PHACELIA

PHACELIA

Phacelia tanacetifolia

Borage Family [Boraginaceae]  

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