IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial plant is 1½–3' tall, branching frequently in the upper half to create a bushy effect. The narrow stems are hairless. The alternate leaves are up to 3½" long and less than ¼" across. They are linear, hairless, and have smooth edges. There is usually only a single prominent vein, although some of the larger leaves may have 2 additional side veins that are visible. The upper stems terminate in clusters of small composite flowers. While in the bud stage, each cluster typically has 3-7 sessile flowerheads. Some of the flowerheads eventually develop short pedicels and partially separate from each other. Each flowerhead is only 1/8" across while in bloom, and variable in length, depending on its maturity. There are about 5 yellow disk florets and 12 yellow ray florets in each flowerhead. Beneath these florets, is a short cylinder of narrow bracts. These bracts are often resinous and shiny, and can vary in color from green to pale yellow. The blooming period occurs from late summer to fall, and lasts about 2 months. A typical plant blooms gradually over a long period of time. A floral scent may, or may not, be noticeable. The florets are replaced by bullet-shaped achenes with small tufts of white hair, which are dispersed by the wind. Small brown pieces of the dried-up florets often persist within these tufts of hair. The root system is fibrous and produces long rhizomes, forming vegetative colonies readily.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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