Plant Species of the Borrego Desert: Boraginaceae: Cryptantha species, Popcorn Flowers
Cryptantha species have a well-deserved reputation for being hard to distinguish, since the characteristics that separate the species in the keys are all minute, and few of them show up in a photograph of the flower. However, nearly all of our species are distinctive enough that they can be immediately recognized in the field at a glance, including the most common species. Many of the other species can be distinguished by simple measurements of the width of the flower and the length of the calyx in flower and fruit. These measurements can easily be obtained from a photograph of the flowers from the side that also include a scale like one's finger. Only a few species require observations of the seeds (called nutlets), even though it is widely thought that nutlets are necessary to identify all species of Cryptantha.
None of our Cryptantha species are like the namesake of this genus, which had inconspicuous flowers that self-fertilized without opening, and thus was named from the Greek krypto, "to hide, hidden," and anthos, "flower," and thus meaning "hidden flower" (Charters 2009).
This page formerly held a formal key to our Cryptantha species, along with a table of their distinguishing characteristics. While that page is still accurate, it really is unnecessary to go into such detail to distinguish our species.
This page will be expanded in the future with field identification tips. For now, it is primarily a placeholder for links to pictures of the species, with the first species page added on 29 December 2012.
Species PagesC. micrantha
Copyright © 2009-2012 by Tom Chester.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 29 December 2012