Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Anthemideae (Mayweed) Tribe

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 present in Monterey County.  The Mayweed tribe (Anthemideae) comprises a mixture of obviously daisy-like flowers and others, like some of those on this page, which don’t look like sunflowers at all.

Common Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Blooms:

Apr–Sept

Plant Height:

30–100 cm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open places, many communities

Notes:

This very common plant is immediately distinguishable by its dense, flat-topped clusters of white flowers, and long feathery leaves.  “Millefolium” in the scientific name means “thousand-leaved”.  Close examination of the individual flowers will reveal the separate ray and disk flowers.  A glance at the inflorescence from below will show that the clusters are not structured as umbels, despite a superficial likeness to members of Apiaceae (Carrot family).  Photos #1-2 by CJH.

Yarrow, Common
Yarrow, Common

Mayweed / Dog Fennel – Anthemis cotula

Blooms:

Apr–Aug

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Disturbed areas, coastal dunes, chaparral and oak woodland

Notes:

This plant has 10–15 white ray flowers, with a protruding mound of yellow disk flowers.  The ray flowers may become recurved with age.  The aromatic, feathery leaves are distinctive.

Brass Buttons – Cotula coronopifolia

Blooms:

Mar–Dec

Plant Height:

5–40 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

South Africa

Invasive?

Yes – limited

Habitat:

Mud, moist banks & salt marshes, both coastal & inland

Notes:

A common, appropriately named plant.  It has a seemingly solid yellow disk at the tip of each peduncle, comprising many disk flowers and a single series of rayless pistillate flowers on the rim.  The flat hypanthium is distinctive, with phyllaries in 2–3 series.  Leaves are fleshy, shallowly and irregularly divided.  When crushed, leaves may emit a distinctive fragrance.

Ox-eye Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare

Blooms:

July–Aug

Plant Height:

10-30 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Europe

Invasive?

Yes – moderate

Habitat:

Waste places & fields

Notes:

Widely naturalized, this daisy has an erect stem with one or a few large inflorescences, each with 13–34 white ray flowers up to 2 cm long.  Involucre is a flattish hemisphere.  Leaves are alternate, obovate to spoon-shaped, and coarsely serrated.

Pineapple Weed – Matricaria discoidea

Blooms:

Apr–Aug

Plant Height:

10–30 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Riverbanks & disturbed areas

Notes:

A common, low-growing weed with pinnately lobed leaves with linear segments.  There are many flowers in discoid heads, i.e with no ray flowers.  These give off a pineapple aroma when crushed.  The plant is said to act as a short-term insect repellent.

Feverfew – Tanacetum parthenium

Blooms:

June–Aug

Plant Height:

up to 1 m

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Garden escape in waste areas

Notes:

Two separate forms are found, those with the normal yellow disk flowers and the “Plenum” form with more series of ray flowers and a less clear distinction between the ray and disk flowers. Note the chrysanthemum-like leaves.