Journal of Undergraduate Research


species boundaries, taxonomy, California pincushion plants


Life Sciences




Species in the genus Navarretia are annual wildflowers found almost exclusively in California. The Navarretia atractyloides group consists of just two species, N. atractyloides and N. hamata, that are more similar to each other morphologically than to any other Navarretia species. The most recent taxonomic investigation of these two species distinguishes between them based on bract shape, stamen attachment to the corolla, and whether the style is included and anthers included to slightly exserted from the corolla tube versus style exserted and anthers long exserted (Day, 1993). However, we have noticed that some specimens that seem to be clearly N. atractyloides based on bract features and overall appearance have uneven stamen insertion, like N. hamata, and somewhat more exerted stamens. There also seems to be more variation in flower coloration than previously documented. In this research, we looked at morphological characteristics in several specimens, both collected from the field and from herbarium mounts, to try and determine a clear pattern that distinguishes N. atractyloides from N. hamata. We also focused on some specimens of N. atractyloides that have white flowers instead of the typical purple ones to determine intra-species variation.

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