VENUS'S-LOOKING-GLASS

VENUSs LOOKING GLASS

Legousia hybrida

Bellflower Family [Campanulaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZarchaeophyte
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8purple
flower
flower8green
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8square
stem
stem8fluted

28th Aug 2013, Treyford, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Grows from 5 to 30cm high. Petals more pointed than Large Venus's Looking Glass and a duller purple or pink colour. Leaves without stalks clasping the stem, up to 8cm long, and wavy-edged shaped oblong to obovate,- a wider aspect ratio than those Large Venus's Looking Glass.


28th Aug 2013, Treyford, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
The flowers, at only 5-10mm across, are half as large as the 10-20mm of Large Venus's Looking Glass. The sepals behind the flower stick out twice as far as do the petals (far further relatively than do those of Large Venus's Looking Glass) but are still linear. The flowers are actually atop a very long ovary which is twice as long as the sepals (calyx).


28th Aug 2013, Treyford, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Petals forming a star-shape (rather than a pentagonal shape as do those of Large Venus's Looking Glass). The fused petals are cut half-way to their base forming 5 petals with pointed tips. The inner is a slightly darker shade of lime-green than are those of Large Venus's Looking Glass). The sepals (calyx) behind the flower have forwardly-directed isosceles-triangular teeth on the edge.


28th Aug 2013, Treyford, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Leaves wavy-edged and stalkless and either roughly-hairy or hairless. Stems square in places with flutes on some sides and roughly hairy.


7th July 2016, Sixpenny Handley, Dorset. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The single style splits into 3 stigma at the top. It is supposed to have 5 stamens, but your Author cannot see 5 (he can see only 3 - on the other flowers above).


23rd June 2012, Ranscombe Farm NR, Cuxton, N. Kent. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The petals have now dropped of, but the sepals/calyx remains on top of the very long ovary (which is in 3 parallel tubular sections). In these photos the ovary is more than twice as long as the funnel-shaped sepals (more like 3 to 4 times longer than the sepals). But then, it is turning to fruit.


23rd June 2012, Ranscombe Farm NR, Cuxton, N. Kent. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The ovary/fruit is in 3 parallel sections, which have downwardly-directed short hairs. When it is not sunny then flowers do not open, as here. Leaves wavy-edged.


23rd June 2012, Ranscombe Farm NR, Cuxton, N. Kent. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The developing fruits.


23rd June 2012, Ranscombe Farm NR, Cuxton, N. Kent. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The developing fruits which are 15-30mm long. The seeds within are as shiny as a mirror, so we are told.


19th July 2012, Harting Down, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
As far as your Author can ascertain, the large, broad-lanceolate and irregularly toothed leaves here belong to Venus's-Looking-Glass.


Not to be semantically confused with : Glassworts such as Common Glasswort (Salicornia europaea) [plants with similar names belonging to a differing family]

Slight resemblance to : Geraniums and Crane's-bills (Geranium) species, which also have 5 petals, some species of which are of similar colour.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The long, parallel triple-barrelled fruits just beneath the still present sepals.

The flowers are reminiscent of those of Blue-eyed-Grass (Sisyrinchium bermudiana) which also have a green inner and pointed petals, but they have 6 petals and remarkably flat stems.

Venus's-Looking-Glass has flowers half as small as those of Large Venus's Looking Glass (Legousia speculum-veneris) and they are also more drab in colour. Other differences can be read about in the captions.

It is an annual and Archaeophyte. It grows in arable fields in the South, Central and Eastern parts of England and scattered locations elsewhere and is rather partial to limey soils. It is much more abundant than its larger cousin Large Venus's Looking Glass (Legousia speculum-veneris) which has only been spotted in one hectad in this decade (2010-2017 so far).

Your Author thinks it is the large-ish central pale-greenish spot that is responsible for its strange name of 'Venus's-looking-glass' for does it not resemble the Moon or Venus by reflection in a mirror? Other sources say that it is thought to derive from the shiny mirror-like surfaces of the seeds.

Photos of seeds needed...


  Legousia hybrida  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Campanulaceae  

Distribution
 family8Bellflower family8Campanulaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Legousia
Legousia
(Venus's-Looking-Glasses)

VENUS'S-LOOKING-GLASS

VENUSs LOOKING GLASS

Legousia hybrida

Bellflower Family [Campanulaceae]