The curious case of the urn-shaped flowers: Naming is hard (part deux)
So I've been working on some research around some native plants that all share a unique urn-shape, but seemingly aren't closely connected. I was curious as to why these different plants, which are native to my region but from different plant families would have such a similar looking flower.
My first hypothesis was that, since it's a flower, the shape was specific for native pollinators. So I went on a little research journey to understand if there were any specifically native insects that might pollinate these pretty flowers.
That didn't really get me anywhere, so I simply looked up the genus name without the species name attached to it (e.g. I looked up just the word "Gaultheria" in the plant Gaultheria shallon).
Turns out that all of the plants I previously highlighted were all in sub-families of the same over-arching family of Ericaceae. You might know the Ericaceae family a bit better by the common name of heather.
In fact, the family is so wide-spread you might recognize some of the other plants by their common names: rhododendron, azalea, mountain laurel, and blueberries!
So, that's one mystery solved, but I will say it was a bit disappointing that it didn't result in discovering some connection with a pollinator unique only to my area. But I did learn that, both in tech and outside of it, naming is hard.