Tofieldia coccinea purple featherling

Alaska Wildflowers | White | Purple

Tofieldia coccinea purple featherling

Tofieldia coccinea purple featherling

Common Names

tofieldie écarlate
tofieldie septentrionale
northern tofieldia
northern asphodel
northern false asphodel

purple featherling

Synonyms

none

Subspecies

none

Genus: Tofieldia
Family: Tofieldiaceae (false asphodel)
Order: Alismatales
taxonomic heirarchy

Etymology

Scientific Name: Tofieldia coccinea

The genus Tofieldia is named in honor of the English botanist Thomas Tofield (1730-1779), who significantly contributed to the study of British flora. The specific epithet coccinea is derived from the Latin word “coccineus,” meaning “scarlet” or “bright red,” referring to this species’ deep red stem.



Common Name: Purple Featherling

The common name “purple featherling” likely refers to the distinctive purple hue of the flowers and the feather-like appearance of the plant’s inflorescence.

Common Name: Northern False Asphodel

The name “northern false asphodel” indicates that this plant resembles true asphodels but belongs to a different botanical family. In Greek mythology, the term “asphodel” is associated with death and the underworld, where the Asphodel Meadows were one of the three divisions of the underworld alongside Elysium and Tartarus. The Asphodel Meadows were the realm where the majority of the deceased resided. The term “false asphodel” clarifies that Tofieldia coccinea is not a true asphodel. “Northern” refers to the plant’s distribution in the northern regions.

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Tofieldia coccinea is a small perennial herb in the Tofieldiaceae family, as recognized by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG). However, the Cronquist system still classifies it within the lily family (Liliaceae). It grows from short rhizomes. The stems are deep red or purple, circular, erect, and commonly 2-12 cm tall (up to 20 cm). It has mostly deciduous basal leaves, dying annually. The leaves are broadly linear, 2-6 cm long, 5-veined, sheathed at the base, and folded like the leaves of an iris. There may be 1-3 (usually one) smaller bract-like cauline leaves (along the stem).

The inflorescence is a dense, head-like, cylindrical terminal cluster, 0.5-2.5 cm long, consisting of 5-30 small flowers about 2 mm in diameter (5-15 flowers according to the Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago). The cluster elongates and becomes less dense with age. The flowers have six tepals, three petal-like, and three sepal-like. The tepals are greenish, tinged with pinkish cream to deep crimson. The inner tepals are slightly longer than the outer ones. Each flower has six stamens and a 3-styled pistil. The stamens are approximately equal in length to the tepals or slightly longer, with filaments that are not strongly flattened or dilated at the base. The ovary is ellipsoid, and the styles are 0.3-0.8 mm long. This species often displays various flower colors, from purple to deep red, with variations including pink and yellowish hues.

The fruit is a dry, spherical capsule 2-3 mm long containing 15-30 seeds. The capsules are broadly obovoid to globose and turn dark purple as they mature. They dehisce (open when mature) to release the seeds.

T. coccinea is similar in appearance to and is known to hybridize with Tofieldia pusilla.


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Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

No traditional, medicinal, or culinary uses were found.


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Distribution and Habitat

Map data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), NatureServe Explorer, and Kew

Tofieldia coccinea is a northern species found in Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Siberia, Mongolia, eastern China, North and South Korea, and Japan.

It’s primary habitat is in tundra, in moderately drained areas with low organic content in montane to alpine zones.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
ClassEquisetopsida
SubclassMagnoliidae
SuperorderLilianae
OrderAlismatales
FamilyTofieldiaceae (false asphodel)
GenusTofieldia
SpeciesTofieldia coccinea (purple featherling, northern false asphodel)

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References and Further Reading

Guidebook

none

Classification and Taxonomy

Canadensys. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/9415?lang=en

Integrated Taxonomic Information System. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea (TSN 43049). Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=43049

USDA. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea – Plant Profile. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=TOCO

Etymology

Wikipedia contributors. (n.d.). Tofieldia. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofieldia

Coccineus, coccinea, coccineum. (n.d.). In Latin-Dictionary.net. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://latin-dictionary.net/definition/10613/coccineus-coccinea-coccineum

Asphodel. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/asphodel

Wikipedia contributors. (n.d.). Greek underworld. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_underworld

Uses

none

Map and Distribution

GBIF. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://www.gbif.org/species/2864343

NatureServe Explorer. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.141247/Tofieldia_coccinea

Kew Science. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:542259-1

Description and Information

Flora of North America. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from http://floranorthamerica.org/Tofieldia_coccinea

Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://nature.ca/aaflora/data/www/litoco.htm

Hultén, E. (1968). Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories: A Manual of the Vascular Plants (1st ed.) (pg. 304). Stanford University Press.

Ecological Atlas of Denali’s Flora. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://ecologicalatlas.uaf.edu/index.php/browse-plant-species/atlas-page/?nps_id=2017

E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia. (2024). Tofieldia coccinea. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Tofieldia%20coccinea&redblue=Both&lifeform=7

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