Overview

Comprehensive Description

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During late summer when this tall plant is in full bloom, its lanky stems and flowering spikes have a tendency to sway with each passing breeze. Biennial Gaura (Gaura biennis) has not received much attention because of its untidy appearance and slightly weedy nature. However, it provides attractive flowers during the hot and dreary month of August, when other plants are usually dormant. Biennial Gaura closely resembles Large-flowered Gaura (Gaura longiflora), except this latter species has short appressed hairs along its stems, rather than long and widely spreading hairs. Large-flowered Gaura has a more western distribution than Biennial Gaura, and it is less common in Illinois. Another species with a more western distribution, Small-flowered Gaura (Gaura parviflora), has more densely pubescent leaves, a less branched inflorescence, and smaller flowers than Biennial Gaura. Small-flowered Gaura is uncommon in Illinois, where it is adventive.
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Description

During the first year, this plant develops a rosette of basal leaves. During the second year, this biennial plant bolts to become 3-7' tall at maturity, branching above. The stems are light green, angular or terete, and moderately to densely covered with spreading white hairs. Alternate leaves occur along these stems that have ascending blades; they are sessile or short-petiolate. The leaf blades are up to 7" long and 1" across, although they are usually about one-half of the maximum size. The leaves are narrowly lanceolate or elliptic in shape, while their margins are entire (toothless) or slightly dentate. The leaf surfaces are yellowish green or medium green and glabrous to slightly pubescent (usually becoming more glabrous with age). However, during the autumn, the leaves often become reddish in response to cold weather. The upper stems terminate in open panicles of floral spikes that are up to 2½' long and across. In each spike, the sessile flowers bloom gradually from the bottom to the top with flower buds above and developing seed capsules below. Each flower is about ½" long and across, consisting of 4 white to pink petals, a narrow calyx tube with 4 green to red sepals at its apex, 8 long-exserted stamens, and an inferior ovary with a long-exserted style. The petals are oblanceolate in shape, tapering to narrow clawed bases; they are arranged in a semi-circle above the reproductive organs. The sepals are linear-lanceolate, short-pubescent, and strongly recurved or deflexed (bent downward or away from the petals). The stamens have white filaments and slender yellow anthers. The slender style is white; it has a 4-lobed stigma at its apex. The branches of the inflorescence are light green or reddish green, angular or terete, and short-pubescent. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to mid-autumn, lasting about 1-2 months. The flowers are replaced by seed capsules that are 6-8 mm. long, fusiform (spindle-shaped), slightly 4-ribbed, and short-pubescent. Each capsule contains a few seeds.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Ecology

Associations

Faunal Associations

The flowers are cross-pollinated by long-tongued bees (especially bumblebees) and nectar-seeking moths, including the Northern Corn Earworm Moth (Heliothis zea). Other insects feed destructively on the foliage, flowers, developing seed capsules, and plant sap of Biennial Gaura. Insects in this latter group include aphids (Macrosiphum gaurae, Macrosiphum pseudorosae), leaf-mining larvae of a Momphid moth (Mompha argentimaculella), gall-forming larvae of a a Momphid moth (Mompha rufocristatella), and larvae of the Primrose Moth (Schinia florida) and Gaura Moth (Schinia gaura). Larvae of the latter two moths feed on the flowers and developing seed capsules. The adults of these two moths often hide near the flowers of Biennial Gaura during the day; they are well-camouflaged because of their pinkish or reddish colors. This plant's relationships with vertebrate animals is currently unavailable. Photographic Location
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects of Biennial Gaura in Illinois

Gaura biennis (Biennial Gaura)
(Long-tongued bees collect pollen or suck nectar; short-tongued bees collect pollen & are non-pollinating; flies feed on pollen & are non-pollinating; observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus impatiens cp, Bombus pensylvanica sn cp fq; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile mendica cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum versatus cp np

Flies
Syrphidae: Eupeodes americanus fp np

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gaura biennis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

This biennial plant prefers full sunlight and more or less mesic conditions. It tolerates many kinds of soil, include those that contain loam, clay, gravel, or sand. Range & Habitat
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Wikipedia

Gaura biennis


Gaura biennis, commonly known as biennial gaura or biennial beeblossom, is a native (North American) biennial plant that can reach anywhere from 4–6 feet in height at maturity. Its upper half is made up of flowering stems, which are covered with soft, white hairs. Gaura biennis is most well known for its light pink colored flowers, which turn a vibrant red/pink color in the late summer to early fall seasons (August to September, usually). These colors make this plant attractive to butterflies and bees, and are in full bloom just before many fall plant species begin to bloom.[1][2]

Research has been done in order to test the hybridization between different species of the genus Gaura and to describe why many members of this genus are so similar morphologically. According to Carr et al., Gaura biennis is readily crossbred with Gaura longiflora, showing it is a direct derivative from G. longiflora, but the specialized feature of permanent translocation heterozygosity set G. biennis apart as a unique genetic system amongst the genus.[3]

Distribution[edit]

Gaura biennis naturally occurs throughout eastern and central North America, and extends as far north as Quebec, Canada. Some of the states in the U.S. it can be found in include: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia.[2][4]

Habitat and Ecology[edit]

Gaura biennis is a biennial plant, meaning it completes its life cycle over the course of two growing seasons, in which it will usually reach full maturity towards the end of the second growing season. It lives mostly in prairies throughout North America, and in dry, rocky places and deserts. It prefers sunny, dry areas, but has the capability of adapting to a wide range of habitats because of its ability to grow deep roots. In order to survive wet winters, it needs a dry spot in light soil.[1][2]

Morphology[edit]

Gaura biennis

Individuals of this species are tall and weedy, with white to light pink flowers during blooming season, and leaves that turn a red color when mature. The flimsy makeup of the plant allows it to sway in the wind, which makes seed dispersal easier. A few hair-covered stems exit from the top of the plant where the flowers grow, which is the easiest way to tell that the species is the Gaura biennis. Flowers also usually have 4 petals, 8 stamens, and 1 pistol. It starts as a small plant, but grows anywhere from 3–6 feet during its second year.[1][2]

Flowers and fruit[edit]

The flowers of Gaura biennis are its most notable feature, with attractive white to light pink color. They have 4 petals, 8 stamens, and 1 pistil, which are mostly pollinated by bees and other insects. The fruits are capsules, ribbed or ridged, and are occasionally woody. It produces small seeds that are easily dispersed by wind and other methods.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hilty, J. (2014), Illinois Wild Flowers= pages=Gaura biennis 
  2. ^ a b c d e Phillips, R., Rix, M. (2002), The Botanical Gardens II: Perennials and Annuals= pages=156 
  3. ^ Carr, B., Gregory, D., Raven, P., Tai, W. (1986), Experimental Hybridization and Chromosomal Diversity within Gaura sect. Gaura (Onagraceae)= pages=98–111 
  4. ^ United States Department of Agriculture (2014), Plant Profile: Gaura biennis L. 

Sources and external links[edit]

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