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Boechera

Boechera

Boechera

Boechera sp.  Synonym: Arabis sp. (Rockcress).
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring, summer.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 11 and 2, 2011.

From the height of a passing human being, the yellow color on these plants appears to be minute, eye-catching flower clusters.  A closer inspection reveals no flowers, just yellowed leaves.  In the very early spring, this same close inspection may reveal a wonderful sweet fragrance.  The yellowed leaves and the sweet fragrance are the product of Puccinia monoica, a pathogen afflicting hundreds of Mustard species in the United States. 

The Boechera plants shown on this page are probably Boechera formosa and B. stricta, common plants of the Four Corners area and Puccinia monoica is fairly common on these Boechera.

Boechera

Boechera sp.  Synonym: Arabis sp. (Rockcress).
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring, summer.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 11, 2011 and Can-Do Trail, May 23, 2011.

If one gives the yellow Boecheras a very close inspection with a hand lends, one sees that the leaves are covered with tiny, shiny bumps.  These are droplets of super-sweetened nectar produced by flask-shaped structures, spermagonia.

Boechera

These structures are the result of Puccinia monoica, a rust fungus.  The shiny, sweet secretions attract pollinators which then spread the fungus.

Boechera grows from low to high altitudes in the Four Corners area, and it can be infected by Puccinia at all elevations.

Boechera
Boechera sp.  Synonym: Arabis sp. (Rockcress).
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring, summer.
Upper Mule Canyon, Utah, April 8, 2005.

The two plants pictured at left are actually one plant; they are growing from the same roots.  The stems on the left are healthy and flowering; the stems on the right are infected with Puccinia monoica and will not flower.

It is common to find a number of plants growing within several feet of each other, some infected with rust and some with lovely flowers.

Click to see Puccinia on Vicia americana.