Asteraceae-Sunflower12018-03-29T09:37:36+00:00

   Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Heliantheae (Sunflower) Tribe: Goldfields

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. This page covers the Goldfields subtribe.  Two genera, Lasthenia and Monolopia can cover whole hillsides, golden yellow in the case of Lasthenia and a pale, lemon-yellow in the case of Monolopia.  The different Lasthenias can be difficult if not impossible to distinguish without examining their pappus.

Golden Yarrow – Eriophyllum confertiflorum varconfertiflorum

Blooms:

Apr–Aug

Plant Height:

50–70 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shrubby slopes, much more common inland than by coast

Notes:

A very common small shrub with its flowers at the end of long, branching peduncles. Easily confused with Lizard Tail (Eriophyllum staechadifolium), but it has 4–7 strongly overlapping phyllaries and (usually) 4–6 ray flowers (as compared to 6–9 for Lizard Tail).  Its leaves are also rather smaller. It is more common inland and far less common near the coast. Despite the shared common name, it is unrelated to Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Lizard Tail / Seaside Woolly Sunflower – Eriophyllum staechadifolium

Blooms:

Apr–Sept

Plant Height:

30–150 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Coastal

Notes:

Common by the coast where it grows in huge quantities.  It has 8–12 scarcely overlapping phyllaries and 6–9 ray flowers, both of which serve to distinguish it from Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum). The common name derives from the shape of the leaf which can resemble a short-tailed lizard.  The genus name means woolly-leaved. referring to the near-white color of the leaves’ lower surface.  Upper leaf surfaces are smooth green with in-rolled margins.

Common Goldfields – Lasthenia gracilis

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

< 40 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open fields and hillsides

Notes:

The most commonly found Goldfields, noted for its ability to turn whole fields or hillsides a brilliant golden yellow.  It is indistinguishable from California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica var. californica) except for the slightly different shapes of the pappus. In this species, the pappus is lance-ovate in shape and opaque white in color. There are 6–13 ray flowers and 4–13 free, hairy phyllaries.

Coastal / Woolly Goldfields – Lasthenia minor

Blooms:

Mar–Apr

Plant Height:

< 35 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

 

Native

Habitat:

Grasslands near the coast, below 700 m

Notes:

This species is most readily identified by its pappus which has 2–4 longer, tapered to lanceolate, brown or white awns separated by a fringe of 4–5 shorter, fringe-like scales. No more than 13 ray flowers, 4–8 mm long.  Phyllaries 7–14 and hairy at margins. The stem is sparsely to densely woolly.

Contra Costa Goldfields – Lasthenia conjugens

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

< 40 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Rare or Endangered?

Yes – 1.b1

Habitat:

Vernal pools and moist grassland

Notes:

A very rare goldfields, found in Monterey County only within Fort Ord. It can be distinguished partly by its habitat and partly by the number of its rather hairy phyllaries (12–18) and the fact they are fused for less than half of their length. It has 6–13 ray flowers. Leaves are linear and entire or occasionally pinnately lobed. It can be found locally in great numbers together with Hickman’s Popcornflower (Plagiobothrys chorisianus var. hickmanii), another rare plant.

Smooth Goldfields – Lasthenia glaberrima

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

< 35 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Wet meadows and mucky clay soils

Notes:

An unusual goldfields, partly by its liking for wet areas but more for its generally disciform heads.  Tiny (< 2 mm) ray flowers may be present but generally are not, the 6–13 pistillate flowers having a style and stigma but no rays.  The 5–10 phyllaries are fused about 2/3 of their length, have triangular tips and more or less surround the many disk flowers. Leaves are glabrous and linear in shape.  Fruits have pappus scales—the only goldfields which has both fused phyllaries and pappus scales.

Perennial Goldfields – Lasthenia california subsp. macrantha

Blooms:

Mar–Apr

Plant Height:

< 40 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassland or dunes along immediate coast

Notes:

This species can be distinguished by its phyllaries with 2 overlapping series and by its fruits which are silver-gray in color and may either have 1–4 awl-like pappus scales or none. Leaves are 3–9 cm long, narrow and paired.

Maritime Goldfields – Lasthenia maritima

Blooms:

May–June

Plant Height:

< 25 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Seabird nesting sites along coast

Notes:

The stems are short and decumbent with fleshy leaves. The flower heads have 7–12  ray flowers, 1–3 mm long.  The pappus has 4–12 brownish awns and 4–5+ narrow scales.

Common Monolopia – Monolopia lanceolata

Blooms:

Feb–June

Plant Height:

5–80 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Inland grassland, bare clay, chaparral & woodland

Notes:

A close relative of Goldfields (Lasthenia sp.), Monolopia can also cover hillsides with its bright yellow flowers, appearing more lemon- than golden-yellow from a distance.  Individual heads have 3–10 ray flowers and 2–16 disk flowers.  Leaves are alternate and gray-green. This species and Cupped Monolopia (Monolopia major) are very similar in appearance but the phyllaries in this species are free or fused only about halfway (something that can be difficult to discern because of the woolly hairs covering the involucre) and the fruits are uniformly gray with appressed hairs.

Cupped Monolopia – Monolopia major

Blooms:

Feb–July

Plant Height:

5–80 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Inland, grassland or bare clay

Notes:

Very similar to Common Monolopia (Monolopia lanceolata) in appearance except that the phyllaries are fused to form a cup with triangular lobes and the pappus is mostly glabrous with hairs concentrated near the tip. Unlike Common Monolopia, this species is not generally found in chaparral or woodland.