Eremocarya (Boraginaceae), a recently resurrected segregate of the genus Cryptantha, has generally been recognized as containing a single species, E. micrantha, with two varieties. Here we present evidence that these two varieties are distinct in a number of features and that they should be treated as separate species: Eremocarya lepida and E. micrantha. Eremocarya lepida differs from E. micrantha in having a significantly greater corolla limb width, nutlet length, maximum nutlet width, and maximum nutlet width: apical nutlet width. Eremocarya lepida also has prominent yellow fornices near the apex of the corolla throat, whereas fornices are absent and the fornix region lacks pigmentation in E. micrantha. In addition, we report the discovery of clusters of minute (ca. 0.1 mm long), transparent, stalked, ellipsoid structures born near the apex of the inner corolla tube that are associated with the five corolla fornices, these being unique to E. lepida. These structures, which we term “fornix bodies,” are of unknown chemistry and function, but they may possibly have a role in the pollination of the showier, larger-flowered E. lepida. In addition to these morphological characters, the two species differ in distribution, elevation, and plant community/vegetation. Eremocarya lepida occurs at higher elevation in chaparral, coniferous woodland, and high desert scrub of southern California and northern Baja California, México. Eremocarya micrantha occurs at lower elevations in desert habitats of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, and Utah in the United States, and Baja California and Sonora in México. All of these data strongly support recognition of two species in Eremocarya.
Vol. 61 • No. 3
Vol. 61 • No. 3
Cryptantha micrantha var. lepida