Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Heliantheae (Sunflower) Tribe: Layia & Lagophylla

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, is further broken down into subtribes, of which 9 are present.  The Madia (Tarweed) subtribe includes various species, most of which have conspicuous glands which give off a distinct, sometimes strong, tarry odor.  This page covers the Layia and Lagophylla (Hare-leaf) genera.

Diablo Range Hare-leaf – Lagophylla diabolensis

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

10–100 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Rare or Endangered?

Yes – 1b.1

Habitat:

Grassy openings in foothill woodland, Diablo Range only

Notes:

First identified only in 2013 and found only in southern Diablo Range.  Like all Hare-leafs (but unlike most other tarweeds), this has exactly 5 ray flowers and 6 disk flowers.  Ray flowers are 4–9 mm. Inflorescences are borne on panicle-like branches and subtended by calyx-like bracts.  Leaves are pale green and the stem is sparsely glandular towards the top.

Common Hare-leaf – Lagophylla ramosissima

Blooms:

May–Oct

Plant Height:

10–100 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open places with hard dry soils

Notes:

Like all Hare-leafs but unlike most other tarweeds, this has precisely 5 ray flowers and 6 disk flowers.  Ray flowers are 3–6 mm.  Phyllaries have coarse, long straight hairs, and inflorescences are subtended by calyx-like bracts.  Leaves are grayish, narrow and softly hairy.  The stem is glandless.

Beach Layia – Layia carnosa

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

2–18 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Rare or Endangered?

Yes – 1b.1

Habitat:

Coastal sand dunes

Notes:

Another rare layia, now found (in Monterey County) only on the Monterey Peninsula in the vicinity of Asilomar.  A very small, prostrate to erect, plant with 4–10 white ray flowers no more than 3.5 mm long. Disk flowers number 5–45, with dark purple anthers (unlike the yellow anthers of White Layia (Layia glandulosa)).  Leaves are < 4.5 cm long, oblong to ovate and fleshy.  Stems are not purple streaked and the plant has little odor.

Smooth Layia / Smooth Tidy Tips – Layia chrysanthemoides

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

4–53 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist heavy soils of valley floors

Notes:

Much less common than Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa, see below) but superficially very similar, with 6–16 ray flowers.  It is most easily distinguished by the fact that its leaves and involucre are not glandular.  The involucre is pustulate, i.e. with small blister-like elevations at the base of the hairs.

Woodland Layia – Layia gaillardioides

Blooms:

May–Aug

Plant Height:

6–60 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open or semi-shaded slopes

Notes:

In Monterey County, this is found only in the Diablo Range.  It has 6–18 bright yellow (occasionally white- or pale yellow-tipped) ray flowers and 14–100 disk flowers.  Stems are purple-streaked. The plant is often strongly scented.  The involucre is more or less spheric to bell-shaped or hemispheric.  Leaves are < 12 cm, linear to lanceolate or oblanceolate; the lower leaves serrated or lobed.  Sometimes found in huge numbers.

White Layia – Layia glandulosa

Blooms:

Feb–July

Plant Height:

3–60 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open sandy soils

Notes:

This has 3–14 conspicuous white (occasionally pale or golden yellow) ray flowers on peduncles up to 7 cm long.  Disk flowers and anthers are yellow. The plant is black-glandular hairy (as the scientific name suggests).  Leaves are linear to obovate and < 12 cm.

Pale-yellow Layia – Layia heterotricha

Blooms:

May–June

Plant Height:

< 70 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Rare or Endangered?

Yes – 1b.1

Habitat:

Open areas

Notes:

A rare layia, now found mainly around Fort Hunter Liggett and Hames Valley (between Jolon and Bradley).  The 7–13 ray flowers are white to pale yellow, 5–24 mm long.  Disk flowers are 15-90 with yellow or brownish anthers.  Leaves are < 12 cm long, elliptic to ovate and often clasping. The plant is apple- or banana-scented.  Stems are not purple streaked.

Tall Layia – Layia hieracioides

Blooms:

Apr–May

Plant Height:

<125 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shaded woodland areas, sometimes in open sun

Notes:

One of the more common layias, this is a leafy plant with an erect stem, green to reddish-brown, purple streaked and covered with prominent black glands. The plant is sweet-smelling to pungent.  The involucre is hemispheric to bell-shaped (like all layias and unlike the madias).  There are 6–16 ray flowers, comparatively short and inconspicuous.  Anthers are dark purple.

Tidy Tips – Layia platyglossa

Blooms:

May–June

Plant Height:

< 70 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Inland valleys and coastal dunes & sea bluffs

Notes:

Tidy tips is distinctive with (usually) white-tipped yellow ray flowers, sometimes growing in huge numbers.  The pure yellow form might be confused with Common Madia (Madia elegans), but the rounded shape of  the ray flowers is distinctively different.  Also, the bristly pappus on the fruits is a definitive distinguishing feature.  And, the comparatively broad and flattened tip of the phyllaries.  There are 5–18 ray flowers, 3–21 mm long.  The hemispheric involucre is characteristic of layias.  Stem and involucre are markedly glandular.  Leaves are rough, slender and lanceolate.