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A Palette of Pallida

We like to tell anyone that volunteers or works in the lab that Echinacea achenes come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s an example:

achenes.JPG

Now if you can’t already tell, these are not the achenes you may be used to seeing. These are all achenes from Echinacea pallida, a purple cone flower species not native to Minnesota but planted in some restorations within our field site. These specific achenes come from Hegg Lake, and they are some of the same achenes that Grace and Aaron, our interns from December, weighed and x-rayed in their analysis modeling hybridization between E. angustifolia and E. pallida. We are going to germinate and grow up some of these plants to see if hybridization is occurring in nature. Nicolas and Shona demonstrated hybridization between ANG and PAL was possible and viable through their artificial crosses, Dayvis concluded that the two species have overlapping flowering phenologies and pollinator assemblages, and Grace and Aaron modeled seed set of PAL and ANG heads collected this year and concluded that the model that best explains their data is one where the two species interbreed. So do they?!?!? We’ll let you know.

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