Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Astereae Tribe: Lessingia, Hazardia & Isocoma

The Sunflower family is a very large family with over 25,000 members.  Botanists subdivide the family into a number of tribes of which 14 are represented in Monterey County, one of these, the Heliantheae or Sunflower tribe, being further broken down into subtribes of which 9 are represented in Monterey  County. The Astereae (Aster tribe) includes a diverse range of  plants some of which have clearly daisy-like flowers and others, even though sometimes sharing the same genus, which do not. This page covers five plants with disk flowers only.

Common Lessingia – Lessingia pectinata var. pectinata

Blooms:

June–Sept

Plant Height:

5–70 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Sandy soil

 

Notes:

Common Lessingia is immediately recognizable by its small, bright yellow flower heads comprising 15–30 disk flowers, each with a deep maroon base. The head is technically described as “radiant” which means that the disk flowers on the periphery are much enlarged and often (although not in the case of Lessingia) bilaterally symmetrical. [A clearer example of radiant heads will be found in the Chaenactis genus.] The differences between the two variations of Lessingia pectinata are very subtle. This variety has red to dark brown stems and leaves that can be up to 1.5 cm long.The ends of the stems can be glandular or sparsely hairy. The phyllaries of both varieties can be glandular.

Valley Lessingia – Lessingia pectinata var. tenuipes

Blooms:

June–Sept

Plant Height:

5–70 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Coastal scrub, woodland, chaparral, occasionally sandy soil

 

Notes:

The flowers of Valley Lessingia are effectively identical to those of Common Lessingia (var. pectinata). The differences between the two varieties of Lessingia pectinata are very subtle. This variety has green or tan stems and leaves that can be up to 3 cm long. The ends of the stems are not glandular but may be sparsely hairy or tomentose. Cauline leaves may be entire, toothed or lobed. The phyllaries of both varieties can be glandular.

Sawtooth Goldenbush – Hazardia squarrosa var. squarrosa

Blooms:

Aug–Oct

Plant Height:

30–225 cm

Flower Size:

Small clusters

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Scrub & chaparral

Notes:

This can be a fairly tall large shrub. It has tough serrated, ovate to obovate leaves with sharply toothed margins and discoid flowers (i.e. lacking ray flowers). The thick, recurved phyllaries are distinctive and make it easy to distinguish this species from the two Isocoma species which otherwise it resembles.

Coastal Goldenbush – Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioides

Blooms:

June–Dec

Plant Height:

< 120 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry slopes in grassland and coastal scrub

Notes:

Erect stem with small, oval, clasping leaves clustered in axils, often so dense as to obscure the stem. Inflorescences are in clusters of yellow discoid flowers (i.e. lacking ray flowers). Phyllaries are lanceolate with acute tips, appressed to the head and not reflexed as in Sawtooth Goldenbush (Hazardia squarrosa). The two plants are also differentiated by the absence of spiny tips on the teeth of the Isocoma leaves.

Alkali / Desert Goldenbush – Isocoma acradenia var. bracteosa

Blooms:

Aug–Nov

Plant Height:

< 80 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Alkaline soils, southeastern Monterey

Notes:

This has similar flowers to Coastal Goldenbush except that the phyllary tips are swollen.  The leaves are noticeably different, the upper leaves becoming entire and much reduced in size. Found in the extreme southeast of the county and at the top of Mustang Grade.