Climbing dayflower

(Commelina clavata)



Commelina diffusa, sometimes known as the climbing dayflower or spreading dayflower, is a pantropical herbaceous plant in the dayflower family. It has been introduced to the southeastern United States where it is most common in wet disturbed soils. There are two recognised varieties, one being the type and the other being C. diffusa var. gigas, which is native to Asia and has been introduced to Florida. It flowers from spring to fall and is most common in disturbed situations, moist places and forests. In China the plant is used medicinally as a febrifuge and a diuretic. A blue dye is also extracted from the flower for paints. In the Hawaiian Islands, it is known as "honohono grass", although it is technically not a grass. "Honohono" refers to the alternating structure of the leaves. At least one publication lists it as an edible plant in New Guinea. Commelina diffusa is typically an annual herb, though it may be perennial in the tropics. It spreads diffusely, creeping along the ground, branching heavily and rooting at the nodes, obtaining stem lengths up to 1 metre. Pubescence on the stem is variable and ranges from glabrous to hispidulous, which can occur either in a line or throughout.The leaf blades are relatively variable, ranging from lanceolate to ovate, with proximal leaves tending to be more oblong. They measure 3 to 12 cm in length by 0.8 to 3 cm in width. North American populations tend to have smaller leaf size, typically measuring 1.5 to 5 cm, by 0.5 by 1.8 cm. The leaf apex is acute to acuminate. The leaf surface can be either glabrous (i.e. hairless) or hispid (i.e. bristly). The leaves are subsessile (i.e. having a very small petiole) with a leaf sheath striped with red and covered with hispid pubescence. The flowers are arranged into cincinni (singular: cincinnus), or scorpioid cymes. This is a form of a monochasium where the lateral branches arise alternately on opposite sides of the false axis. There are typically two cincinni present, with the lower cincinnus bearing 2 to 4 flowers, while the upper cincinnus has one to several flowers. The upper cincinnus is generally exerted on specimens with larger spathes, but it may be included in specimens with smaller spathes.The upper cincinnus bears only male flowers and has a longer peduncle, while the lower cincinnus bears bisexual flowers on a shorter peduncle. The pedicels supporting single flowers, and later the fruits, are thick and curved and measure about 3 to 5 mm.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
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