Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Cichorieae (Dandelion) Tribe: Stephanomeria
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. The Cichorieae (Dandelion) tribe has two distinctive features. First, they all have stems with milky sap. Second (and more important), they do not have disk and ray flowers like typical daisies. Instead they have what are called “ligules” which resemble strap-like ray flowers. Unlike ray flowers, ligules have both male and female parts – without which no reproduction would be possible. A third difference is that ray flowers have 0–3 lobes at the tip; ligules have 5. This page covers some of the Stephanomerias or Wire-lettuces. These are variable and can be extremely difficult to identify with certainty. Pay careful attention to the number of ligules, the length of the peduncle, the form of the fruits, and whether the phyllaries are appressed or recurved.