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Plant of the Month

Polymnia johnbeckii is a species recently described new to science by Dwayne Estes (APSU) and James Beck (Wichita State, formerly of Duke University) in an article in Systematic Botany, one of the top 100 journals in science. John Beck’s Leafcup grows at only two places in the world about 30 miles west of Chattanooga, TN in Marion County. It inhabits moist, limestone karst areas in oak-hickory-juniper forest. It has fern-like leaves (left) and its showy white flowers (lower left) are borne in late summer and fall. The whole plant is sticky-hairy and aromatic. This species can be seen along limestone roadcuts of Interstate 24 just west of where the interstate crosses Nickajack Lake. This species was named for John T. Beck, botanist from Chattanooga (below). Polymnia johnbeckii can be seen in the APSU Native Plant Teaching & Research Garden outside Sundquist Science Building along with its close relatives, the Tennessee Leafcup (Polymnia laevigata) and the Canada Leafcup (Polymnia canadensis).