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This perennial wildflower is 3-9' tall, forming a central stem that is unbranched, except along the upper one-third of its length, where there may be a few ascending lateral stems. These stems are predominately reddish purple and terete; they are covered with spreading white hairs. Abundant spreading leaves occur along these stems; they are usually opposite below and alternate above. Individual leaves are 3-7" long and ½-1½" across; they are lanceolate-elliptic in shape and usually crenate-serrate along their margins. The upper leaf surface is medium green and rough-textured from minute stiff hairs, while the lower surface is pale green with spreading white hairs along the major veins and minute stiff hairs inbetween. The minute stiff hairs of the leaves are sparsely to moderately abundant in their distribution. Individual leaves taper gradually into short petioles up to ½" long, and they taper gradually into acute tips. The upper stems terminate in one or more flowerheads about 2-3" across. Each flowerhead has 10-20 yellow ray florets that surround a dense circular cluster of yellow disk florets in the center. The petaloid extensions of the ray florets are oblong and slightly notched at their tips. The tiny disk florets are tubular in shape with 5 spreading to ascending lobes. The disk florets are perfect, while the ray florets are sterile. At the base of each flowerhead, there are floral bracts (phyllaries) that are loosely arranged in several series; they are ascending to widely spreading when the flowerhead is in bloom. Individual floral bracts are medium green, narrowly linear-lanceolate, and covered with stiff minute hairs; their margins are often ciliate. The peduncles (up to 6" long) of the flowerheads are similar to the stems, except they are usually light green. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall, lasting about 2 months. The disk florets are replaced by small achenes that are oblongoid and slightly flattened in shape; each achene has a truncate apex with a pair of membranous awns that soon become detached. The root system has fleshy fibrous roots and shallow rhizomes. Small colonies of plants often develop from the rhizomes.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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