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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 4. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/11/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/30/2009)


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5. Corispermum L. (bugseed)

Plants annual, the taproot not tuberous-thickened, the aboveground portions sparsely to densely pubescent with small, stellate hairs, sometimes becoming nearly glabrous at maturity. Stems erect or ascending, rarely spreading, not succulent, not appearing jointed, few- to much-branched. Leaves alternate, well developed, not succulent, sessile or nearly so. Leaf blades linear to narrowly lanceolate, flattened in cross-section, not clasping the stem, narrowed to a sharply pointed tip, narrowed at the base, the margins entire. Inflorescences terminal on the branches, slender to somewhat club-shaped spikes, the flowers solitary, not sunken into the axis. Flowers all or nearly all perfect (a few pistillate flowers occasionally present). Bract 1 per flower, somewhat leaflike, cupping the fruit, lanceolate to ovate, tapered to a sharply pointed tip. Calyx of 1 sepal (absent or 3 elsewhere), this tiny (0.5–1.0 mm long), scalelike, irregularly oblong-ovate, rounded at the tip, persistent at fruiting, not concealing the fruit, rounded on the back, not winged. Stamens 1–3(–5). Ovary superior. Style absent or 1 and very short, the stigmas 2, linear. Fruits unequally elliptic in cross-section (the inner surface flattened to slightly concave), elliptic to obovate or nearly circular in outline, flattened vertically, indehiscent, the wall papery to somewhat leathery or hardened, usually with reddish brown spots and occasionally a few small, whitish, warty outgrowths. Seed adhering more or less tightly to the fruit wall, positioned vertically, 1.5–4.0 mm long, elliptic to oval in outline, flattened, the surface smooth, dark brown to nearly black, shiny, the embryo appearing more or less ring-shaped. About 60 species, North America, Europe, Asia.

Species of Corispermum are very difficult to distinguish, especially if mature fruits are not present. Perhaps because of this, the taxonomy of the genus in North America is controversial. Some authors (Maihle and Blackwell, 1978; Brooks, 1986) have contended that the three or four species present in North American are introduced from the Old World. However, Mosyakin (1995) accepted eleven species as occurring in the region, with at least eight of these said to be native. Paleobotanical evidence (Betancourt et al., 1984) documents the presence of one or more members of the genus in western North America (at least some of these similar in fruit morphology to modern C. villosum) over a period between more than 38,000 and less than 1,500 years ago, so perhaps the modern materials should correctly be considered all or in part indigenous to the New World. However, Mosyakin’s (1995) narrow taxonomic circumscriptions (which he states to be preliminary pending more detailed research) have been challenged by some recent authors (Judd and Ferguson, 1999). The bulk of the morphological variation that has given rise to this controversy occurs in plants to the west and/or north of Missouri. Because Mosyakin (1995 and pers. comm.) accepted the same number of taxa for Missouri as did earlier authors (Steyermark, 1963; Maihle and Blackwell, 1978), the present treatment tentatively accepts his newer nomenclature.

In regions to the west of Missouri where Corispermum is more abundant, the genus is considered a good forage for livestock.


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1 1. Fruits 1.8–3.0 mm long, elliptic to ovate-elliptic or obovate-elliptic in outline, the wing absent or very narrow (to 0.15 mm wide); inflorescences mostly narrowly club-shaped, conspicuously denser toward the tip; bracts as wide as or wider than the fruits; leaves linear ... 3. C. VILLOSUM

Corispermum villosum
2 1. Fruits 3.5–4.5 mm long, elliptic-obovate to nearly circular in outline, the wing relatively well developed (0.3–0.5 mm wide); inflorescences slender to club-shaped, the flowers relatively evenly spaced; leaves linear to narrowly lanceolate

3 2. Inflorescences mostly slender and linear, the flowers only slightly overlapping; fruits broadly obovate to nearly circular in outline, the tip usually rounded; bracts narrower than to about as wide as the fruits; leaves mostly linear ... 1. C. AMERICANUM

Corispermum americanum
4 2. Inflorescences mostly stouter and club-shaped, the flowers strongly overlapping except at the very base; fruits obovate to elliptic-obovate in outline, the tip usually broadly angled; bracts mostly wider than the fruits; leaves mostly narrowly lanceolate ... 2. C. PALLASII Corispermum pallasii
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