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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 8 | Saxifragaceae | Heuchera

25. Heuchera cylindrica Douglas in W. J. Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 236. 1832.

Poker alum-root

Heuchera cylindrica var. alpina S. Watson; H. cylindrica var. glabella (Torrey & A. Gray) Wheelock; H. cylindrica var. orbicularis (Rosendahl, Butters & Lakela) Calder & Savile; H. glabella Torrey & A. Gray; H. ovalifolia Torrey & A. Gray; H. woodsiaphila P. J. Alexander

Herbs acaulecent; caudex branched. Flowering stems 10-90 cm, short or long stipitate-glandular. Leaves: petiole glabrous or short to long stipitate-glandular; blade ovate to orbiculate, deeply 5-7-lobed, 2.2-8 cm, base cordate, truncate, or cuneate, lobes rounded, margins dentate, apex acute to obtuse, surfaces glabrous or short or long stipitate-glandular. Inflorescences dense; (bracts subtending pedicels sometimes strongly fringed). Flowers: hypanthium weakly bilaterally symmetric, free 1-2 mm, cream or yellow, often tinged red or green, especially at base, broadly campanulate, 6-8.5 mm, short stipitate-glandular and sometimes long stipitate-glandular; sepals erect, sometimes red-tinged, equal, 2.5-5 mm, apex rounded or obtuse; petals absent or 1-5, erect, green, narrowly oblanceolate, unlobed, 1 mm, margins entire; stamens included 1-2 mm; (filaments erect, straight, stout, to 2 times length of anthers); styles included 2-3 mm, 0.5-1 mm, 0.1+ mm diam. Capsules ovoid, 6-10 mm, beaks divergent, not papillose. Seeds dark brown, oblong-ellipsoid, 0.6-0.9 mm. 2n = 14, 28.

Flowering Apr-Aug. Rocky soil, cliffs, to subalpine and alpine talus slopes; 1000-3400 m; Alta., B.C.; Calif., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Oreg., Wash., Wyo.

Some features of Heuchera cylindrica show great variation, including the type and amount of indument on the leaves, petioles, and stems, lobation and shape of leaf base, difference in flower size, complicated by rapid growth of the hypanthium during and after anthesis, change in filament-to-anther ratio before and after anthesis, relative degree of development of bracts of flowering stems, degree of disc development, and relative length and degree of divergence of the beaklike styles of the fruit. We agree with P. K. Holmgren and N. H. Holmgren (1997) that there is no value in recognizing infraspecific taxa in H. cylindrica until a more thorough phylogenetic study can show some correlation between morphological variation and infraspecific categories.

A new species, Heuchera woodsiaphila P. Alexander, from between 2550 and 2900 meters elevation in the Capitan Mountains of Lincoln County, New Mexico, was published just as this treatment was going to press, and there was not adequate time to evaluate it or add it here. Alexander considered it closest to H. cylindrica, but pointed out that its proper status is difficult to determine and that it might be better treated as a variety of H. cylindrica.

The Blackfoot Indians used decoctions of roots of Heuchera cylindrica for diarrhea and as an astringent. The Flathead infused or chewed roots for diarrhea and stomach cramps. The Kutenai used decoctions of roots for "aching bones" and tuberculosis. The Okanagan-Colville used decoctions of roots as a tonic for the "changing of the blood" and, especially for children and babies, to rinse out the mouth for sore throats. They applied a poultice of mashed, peeled roots to sores and cuts, and mixed roots with puffball spores as a salve for diaper rash. The Shuswap Indians took decoctions of leaves and roots for diarrhea. The Thompson Indians applied chewed leaves and roots on sores or wounds and drank an infusion of roots for liver trouble (D. E. Moerman 1998).


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