Sunday, July 13, 2008


Blanket Flower

This is the third in a series of notes to myself about some flowers recently planted in my yard.

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

There is some confusion among authorities about exactly where the genus name Gaillardia comes from. David Gledhill, The Names of Plants (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) p. 145, says it was named "for Gaillard de Charentonneau (Marentonneau), patron of Botany." Well, is it Charentonneau or Marentonneau? Rudolf Köster, Eigennamen im deutschen Wortschatz: Ein Lexikon (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003), p. 54, can't make up his mind either: "nach dem Blumenfreund und Botaniker Gaillard de Marentonneau (18. Jh.), nach anderen: G. de Charentonneau."

Auguste Denis Fougeroux de Bondaroy named the genus, so let's see what he said about it in "Description d'un nouveau genre de Plante," Mémoires de Mathématique et de Physique, tirés des Registres de l'Académie Royale des Sciences (1786):
Nous la nommerons gaillardia (pulchella) foliis alternis lanceolatis semi-amplexantibus, floribus subsolitariis terminalibus purpureoflavis (act. R. Par.), du nom de M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, qui, aux devoirs de la Magistrature, a su réunir, comme délassement, la culture des plantes & l'étude de la botanique.
Clearly the genus is named after Gaillard de Charentonneau, not Gaillard de Marentonneau.

Britton & Brown (III, 511) describe the genus thus:
Branching or scapose, pubescent herbs, with alternate or basal leaves, and large peduncled heads of both tubular and radiate flowers, or rays wanting. Involucre depressed-hemispheric, or flatter, its bracts imbricated in 2 or 3 series, their tips spreading or reflexed. Receptacle convex or globose, bristly, fimbrillate or nearly naked. Rays cuneate, yellow, purple, or parti-colored, neutral or rarely pistillate, 3-toothed or 3-lobed. Disk-flowers perfect, fertile, their corollas with slender tubes and 5-toothed limbs, the teeth pubescent with jointed hairs. Anthers minutely sagittate or auricled at the base. Style-branches tipped with filiform or short appendages. Achenes turbinate, 5-ribbed, densely villous, at least at the base. Pappus of 6-12 1-nerved awned scales, longer than the achene.
Frederick Pursh, Flora americae Septentrionalis; or, A Systematic Arrangement and Description of the Plants of North America (London: White, Cochrane, and Co., 1814), p. 573, named the species from a specimen collected by Meriweather Lewis on July 7, 1806. The species designation aristata means having an awn or top like an ear of grain (cf. Latin arista = top of an ear of grain).

Britton & Brown (III, 512) describe the species Gaillardia aristata thus:
Perennial; stem simple, or little branched, hirsute, or densely pubescent with jointed hairs, 1°-3° high. Leaves firm, densely and finely pubescent, the lower and basal ones petioled, oblong or spatulate, laciniate, pinnatifid or entire, mostly obtuse, 2'-5'long; upper leaves sessile, lanceolate or oblong, or slightly spatulate, smaller, entire or dentate, rarely pinnatifid; heads 1 1/2'-4' broad, long-peduncled; bracts of the involucre lanceolate, acuminate, hirsute; achenes villous, at least at the base. On plains and prairies, Minnesota to Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Colorado, New Mexico and Oregon. May-Sept.
The specimens in my yard are just on the verge of blooming, and I wonder what they will look like. I was puzzled to see that most photographs on the Internet show different-looking flowers, until I read in Donald Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia (New York: Macmillan, 1977), p. 418, that "Seedsmen have hybridized these to such an extent that there are many varieties."

The common name blanket flower refers to the resemblance of the colors of the flower to brightly colored Indian blankets.

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