2/6/09

California's evolving radishes

More bloggy goodness from my Flickr friend Nhu, who "prepared this panel...in celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species."

Nhu's radish evolution

Nhu writes:
This is a weedy species that grows in coastal areas of California. According to research by Norman Ellstrand's group at UC Riverside, this species is evolving in a quantifiable manner. It is a hybrid between Raphanus sativus, the common radish, and Raphanus raphanistrum.

Curiously, the same hybrid occurs elsewhere in similar climates such as that of South Africa, but something special about ecosystems in California has allowed it to proliferate. It is now different enough from either of its parents that Ellstrand's group is considering describing this as a new species. This has occurred within the timespan that the two parents were brought together by humans in California.

There are many color variations of this evolving species. It is exactly through this variation that the process of natural selection works. If allowed to go its own way, some of these color morphs may persist, others may perish, all depending on the selective forces present where they occur. Eventually, each of these, via time and selection, could become a species of its own. California thus would be the center of diversity for a new group of Raphanus species.
Awesome. Bernal Hill has a large population of this wild radish every year. I consider it a scourge, but I will see it with new eyes from now on.


See also Nhu's fabulous fungus box.

6 comments:

Ewa said...

This is really stunning example of diversity and so many different colors of flowers.
Raphanus raphanistrum is also present in Poland as archaeophyte and present only with yellow and white flowers.

queerbychoice said...

It doesn't just grow in coastal California; it's all over the Sacramento Valley too. I was noticing the wide variety of colors in a field yesterday, so it's great to see this confirmation that they are all what I thought they were.

JvA said...

It may be a scourge, but at least it's a cute scourge!

If you ever plan to go on Jeopardy, know that Darwin's boat was called the Beagle.

Last night I linked Thomas Henry Huxley ("Darwin's bulldog") to my daughter in her family tree. Her great-great-great-great-uncle married Huxley's niece. I put Aldous Huxley the tree too.

JvA said...

I love the gift you got her! I can't wait to take a video of it! (Of course, she'll need to learn to crawl/walk first...)

chuck b. said...

You weren't supposed to notice that! Pls. feign surprise when I see you in April.

JvA said...

She'll be surprised...