Morphological Variation in Cephalotus follicularis

Morphological Variation in Cephalotus follicularis

Are there different location forms of Cephalotus follicularis? While the species exhibits remarkable variation in colour, patterning and stature, a wide morphological diversity is typically present within large populations of the plants.

To demonstrate this, I have compiled images exhibiting the diversity of plants within three locations. Sites A and B were large natural sites on recently burnt swampy slopes. There is an endless combination of traits in these well-established sites as plants can crossbreed within the population and mix with other nearby populations.

Site C was formed by a small man-made drainage ditch dug next to a road that passed through a swampy valley. Interestingly, all specimens here were squat and fat. This is possibly due to a genetic ‘founder effect’ whereby the traits of an initial colonising plant were amplified as its progeny expanded in this newly founded population. Presumably, the original colonising plant was similarly squat.

The collection of a small number of plants for cultivation is analogous to this effect. Any perceived site-specific differences in cultivation are likely to be an artifact of growers selecting the showiest or most unique plants for further propagation.

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