E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Lysimachia minima (L.) Krause
chaffweed
Myrsinaceae (Myrsine family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #29677)

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Distribution of Lysimachia minima
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Introduction

In North America, this species is found in many US states and in three Canadian provinces (BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan) (USDA 2011). In British Columbia, it is found primarily on southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, with some occurrences in the Fraser Valley. Habitats include moist to wet river banks, salt marshes, vernal pools and pond margins in the lowland zone.

In his article on the rare plants of the Fraser Valley, Lomer (2011) says: "This diminutive annual had not been collected in the Fraser Valley prior to about 1999. Since that time it has been discovered at 8 sites in the Greater Vancouver area (UBC: Lomer 5668). All sites were man-made habitats and I believe that this species is a recent introduction here. It has been found in cranberry bogs, sand dredgings, disturbed peaty road clearings, gravelly roadside depressions, cleared moist gravel flats, old gravel pits, and wet field pools. It appears to be spreading." Extracted from Botanical Electronic News #432, January 2010, with permission.

Species Information

General:
Plants annual, fibrous-rooted.
Stems:
Stems erect or ascending (sometimes decumbent and rooting at the nodes), solitary or several, unbranched or branched near the base, 1-10 cm tall.
Leaves:
Leaves alternate (or some opposite near base of plant), ovate or obovate to spatulate, confluent with the stem, 2-11 mm.
Flowers:
Flowers sessile or short-stalked; corollas inconspicuous, salverform to slightly campanulate, white to pinkish, 1.5-2 mm wide; calyces divided almost to base, exceeding the corolla, 1.5-3 mm, lobes lanceolate and lacking scarious margins; pedicel 0-1 mm. Flowering May-Jun.
Fruits:
Capsules 1.5-2 mm.

Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet vernal pools, shorelines, salt marshes, river banks, and disturbed areas in the lowland zone. Rare (infrequent?) in sw BC (s Vancouver I., Gulf Is., Lower Fraser Valley); BC east to NS, south to Mexico; Eurasia, South America.

Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Additional Notes

This small, inconspicuous species is easily overlooked and may be somewhat more common than its conservation status suggests. The corollas are present only briefly, and the plant is much more conspicuous when sporting the enlarged, globose, axillary capsules. Its native status outside of Europe is not well established, and it may potentially be a widespread cosmopolitan weed with a European origin rather than a native species in the Americas. Its common occurrence in habitats that support other rare native species (such as vernal pools) suggests a native status, but it also occurs in disturbed areas amongst exotic weeds.

Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Family Information

Annual or perennial herbs from fibrous roots, a taproot, a horizontal rhizome, or a small tuber (or a greatly enlarged tuber in Cyclamen); plants often with secretory resin canals that appear as dark dots or streaks. Stems trailing to erect, solitary to several, branched or simple. Leaves generally cauline (all basal in Cyclamen), alternate or opposite (sometimes whorled or pseudowhorled). Inflorescences variable, ranging from solitary axillary flowers or axillary whorls to stalked axillary racemes, terminal or axillary panicles, or erect terminal racemes. Flowers bisexual, usually stalked; corollas usually radially symmetric (sometimes lacking), rotate or campanulate to funneliform, (4-) 5- to 9-lobed; calyces (4-) 5- to 9-lobed; stamens (4-) 5-9; filaments distinct or connate; ovary superior; styles 1. Fruit a capsule, valvate or circumcissile; seeds usually brown or reddish-brown to black. Genera ~50, species ~1400 (5 genera, 12 species in B.C.). Nearly worldwide, except absent from many deserts and polar regions.

The genera here were all formerly included within a broadly-defined Primulaceae, but have since been moved to the closely related Myrsinaceae following recent molecular-genetic studies that have shown strong support for their inclusion in the latter family (Källersjö et al. 2000, Trift et al. 2002, Cholewa et al. 2009). All genera in B.C., with the exception of the genus Cyclamen, are apparently derived from within the large, highly paraphyletic genus Lysimachia (Hao et al. 2004, Anderberg et al. 2007), at least in its broadest sense, and some authors prefer to treat some or all of these genera as members of that genus so as to preserve its monophyly; however, most published phylogenies of the group (e.g., Hao et al. 2004, Manns and Anderberg 2005, Anderberg et al. 2007) suggest that it consists of a number of well-supported individual clades that might be better recognized as genera. Although such an approach would result in the redistribution of some Lysimachia species into new genera, it seems to best represent the systematics of the group and, as a result, it is the approach that is followed in this treatment (i.e., recognition of Steironema, Anagallis, and Trientalis as separate from Lysimachia). Several species of Cyclamen and Lysimachia are grown as ornamentals in southern British Columbia, including the naturalized species Cyclamen hederifolium, Lysimachia punctata, L. nummularia, and L. vulgaris.

Key to the Genera of Myrsinaceae

1a. Corolla lobes sharply reflexed; plants scapose, from a greatly enlarged, round, flattened tuber; leaves all basal, arising directly from the tuber………………………………………………………………………………………………..Cyclamen

1b. Corollas usually rotate or campanulate to funneliform, but corolla lobes never sharply reflexed; plants not scapose, from fibrous roots, short rhizomes, or small, slightly enlarged, ascending or horizontal tubers; leaves all cauline……………..……...........2

2a. Plants annual (rarely perennial); fibrous-rooted to taprooted…………….……………………………...………..….....…Anagallis

2b. Plants perennial; from rhizome or a small, slightly thickened, horizontal to ascending tuber…………...…………………...........….4

4a. Corollas yellow……..……………………………………………...……………………………………………..…………5

5a. Flowers solitary, axillary; stems erect; leaves ovate to broadly lanceolate…………………..…………….....….Steironema

5b. Flowers usually in terminal or axillary racemes or axillary whorls, if solitary and axillary then stems creeping and leaves nearly orbicular……………………………………………………………………………………..……Lysimachia (in part)

4b. Corollas whitish to pinkish, or corollas absent and calyces instead corolla-like and whitish or pinkish…...………….…..…......6

6a. Plants succulent, glaucous; leaves distributed throughout the stems; flowers sessile; corollas absent; calyx lobes whitish or pinkish, corolla-like; plants restricted to saline or alkaline habitats…….…….…….…………...……...Lysimachia (in part)

6b. Plants not succulent, not glaucous; leaves mostly in a single pseudowhorl at top of the stem (stem leaves reduced or scale-like); flowers long-stalked; corollas present; calyces green, not corolla like; plants widespread in terrestrial and some wetland habitats, but never associated with saline or alkaline habitats……………………...……………………..Trientalis


Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Genus Information

Perennial, rhizomatous herbs, sometimes succulent. Stems ascending to erect or sometimes decumbent, simple or branched. Leaves all cauline, opposite or whorled (sometimes becoming alternate above), entire, simple, sessile to petiolate, ovate or oblong to linear-lanceolate. Inflorescences terminal and/or axillary racemes, or flowers axillary (solitary to several per axil); often bracteate. Flowers sessile to pedicellate; corollas usually present (absent in L. maritima), yellow, deeply 5- (9-) lobed, yellow (often with reddish speckling or markings), lobes linear-lanceolate to ovate; calyces green to pinkish or whitish, deeply 5- (9-) lobed, lobes exceeding the tube; stamens 5, included or exserted; filaments distinct or connate at the base. Fruits globose capsules, 5-valvate; seeds 1-20. About 150 spp. (6 spp. in B.C.). Nearly worldwide.

Lysimachia is a large, virtually cosmopolitan genus that reaches its greatest diversity in temperate Eurasia (especially eastern Asia). The circumscription of the genus presented here differs from most recent treatments in that it includes the formerly monotypic genus Glaux [= Lysimachia maritima], which has repeatedly been shown to be an apetalous member of Lysimachia (Anderberg et al. 2007, Cholewa 2009c) and is now generally included within that genus. This treatment of Lysimachia also excludes Steironema ciliatum [= Lysimachia ciliata], as that species is now known to be relatively distantly related to the species here (Hao et al. 2004, Manns and Anderberg 2005, Anderberg et al. 2007); see Steironema for more information. Some species are popular horticultural subjects, including several that have escaped and become established in the province.


Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Anagallis minima (L.) Krause

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References