Denver mint

Joseph Laferriere josephl at CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Wed Oct 18 11:14:53 CDT 1995

There has been some talk over Taxacom recently of joking descriptions of=20
taxa. The following was published last year in Plant Sciences Bulletin 40:2=
Apologies to non-Americans, who likely will not understand many of the=20
historical references.


Joseph E. Laferri=E8re

In a remote mountainous area of Colorado there is a plant known to by the=
local people as the "Denver mint." It is endemic to tailings of abandoned=
gold mines in the Rocky Mountains. The plant is extremely unusual in that=
its rectangular leaves bear portraits of famous personages in American=20
history. These leaves are highly valued by the residents of the area to=20
which the plant is native, reportedly because they make a passable salad.=
The hard, round, flat seeds bear similar portraits.
   The plant has been known to the local people for many years, but has=20
never been formally classified. It is hereby described as a new member of=
the Lamiaceae.

Epluribus unum Laferr., gen. et sp. nov. Type: United States, Colorado,=20
Lost Dutchman Co., Ca=F1on del Oro, 15 April 1994, I.M.A. Richman 1040 (IRS=

Erbhay 50 =A2m alltay. Emstay aresquay. Eaveslay ectangularray, 15.5 x 6.5=
=A2m, earingbay ortraitspay ofaway amousfay ersonspay inaway Americanaway=
isotryhay. Uitfray ehiscentday exceptaway onaway antplay earingbay=20
ortraitspray ofaway Enjaminbay Anklinfray. Eedssay attendflay,=20
ylindricalcay, earingbay upraisedaway iguresfay ofaway amousfay=20
Americansaway andaway ethay inscriptionaway "Inaway Odgay eway usttray."

Herb 50 =A2m tall. Stem square. Leaves rectangular, 15.5 x 6.5 =A2m, bearin=
portraits of famous persons in American history. Fruits dehiscent except=20
on plants bearing leaf portraits of Benjamin Franklin. Seeds flattened,=20
cylindrical, bearing upraised figures of famous Americans and the=20
inscription "In God we trust."

  The most common leaf portraits are those of George Washington, Thomas=20
Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson, but=20
plants in extremely rich loam may occasionally produce portraits of=20
Benjamin Franklin or Ulysses S. Grant. The plant will not grow in very=20
poor soil unless fertilized with gold dust. Plants with portraits of=20
Ulysses S. Grant also seem to prefer soil fertilized with certain=20
distilled beverages. Leaves bearing portraits of Benjamin Franklin often=20
abscise during thunder storms and can be carried several miles by the=20
wind. They have been found to be particularly high in electrolytes.=20
Hummingbirds pollinating the Denver mint have been observed to hum the=20
song "Rocky Mountain High" during pollination. The seeds appear to be=20
distributed by centipedes.
  I have been conducting genetic experiments on plants in cultivation. When=
plants possessing George Washington leaf protraits are crossed with those=
bearing portraits of Alexander Hamilton, all the F1 progeny bear=20
portraits of Abraham Lincoln. Plants with portraits of Thomas Jefferson=20
were, however, found to be incompatible with those bearing portraits of=20
Alexander Hamilton.
   The plant shows promise for potential cultivation as an ornamental. I=20
have begun a seed bank of the plant in the hopes that the Denver mint=20
could someday become a major cash crop.

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