Asteraceae-Sunflower42017-08-16T14:22:36+00:00

Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Heliantheae (Sunflower) Tribe: miscellaneous 2

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 2 subtribes with flowers that are all striking but quite different from each other.

Rayless Arnica – Arnica discoidea

Blooms:

June–July

Plant Height:

15–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open woods, especially after fires

Notes:

This is quite distinctive, with a discoid head which is doughnut shaped before the inner disk flowers mature. Both stems and flower heads are covered in long, glandular hairs. Anther tips are triangular. Leaves are generally lanceolate to ovate.

Red-rayed Hulsea – Hulsea heterochroma

Blooms:

May–Aug

Plant Height:

30–150 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open sites above 300 m, generally after burns or disturbance

Notes:

Generally a fire follower, this plant is unmistakable with its fringe of 30–75+ small, linear, deep red ray flowers surrounding numerous yellowish-orange disk flowers. Basal leaves are 1–2 cm long and coarsely toothed; upper leaves are progressively smaller.

Inner Coast Range Pincushion – Chaenactis glabriuscula var. heterocarpha

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

6–40 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Generally serpentine or shale, southeastern Monterey county

Notes:

Chaenactis all have “radiant” heads; i.e. all flowers are disk flowers, but those around the periphery are much enlarged and often bilateral.  The varieties can be hard to distinguish; this one is identified by its inner fruits which have 7 or 8 scales in two series (the others have 4 scales in a single series).   The plant is often branched with both basal and cauline leaves, the large leaves generally 2-pinnately lobed.

Sand Buttons – Chaenactis glabriuscula var. lanosa

Blooms:

Jan–May

Plant Height:

8–15(35) cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open, loose, sandy or gravelly areas; generally inland

Notes:

More common than var. heterocarpha, this is a larger plant with “scapose” heads, i.e. borne on unbranched, leafless peduncles, usually one head per peduncle. Fruits have 4 scales in one series.  Hairs near the base of the plant are white-tomentose to woolly. Leaves are basal and may be cylindric or flat, entire or pinnately lobed. Sometimes found in profusion, resembling (from a distance) late-flowering goldfields, for instance along the road leading to the eastern entrance to the Pinnacles.

Narrow-leaved Mule Ears – Wyethia angustifolia

Blooms:

Apr–Aug

Plant Height:

30–90 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassland

Notes:

Like Smooth & Gray Mule Ears (Wyethia glabra & helenioides), this has a distinctive large flower head, though a little smaller, with generally fewer (8–21) and smaller (15–45 mm) rays and with phyllaries shorter than the ray flowers. The leaves are narrow, slightly rough or hairy and often with wavy edges

Smooth Mule Ears – Wyethia glabra

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

10–40 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shade

Notes:

The flowers of this species are larger than those of the Narrow-leaved Mule Ears, with  generally 12–27 rays 25–50 mm long. The phyllaries are equal to or longer than the ray flowers, lanceolate with acute or obtuse tips.  The phyllaries and the large leaves are smooth and hairless; the size and shape of the leaves amply justifying the plant’s common name.

Gray Mule Ears – Wyethia helenoides

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

20–70 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

 

Native

Habitat:

Open grassland, woodland & scrub

Notes:

Very similar in appearance to Smooth Mule Ears (Wyethia glabra) but the leaves are slightly hairy on the upper side and tomentose (felty) on the underside. Since the leaves become glabrous with age, a more reliable distinction lies in the phyllaries which are consistently tomentose and slightly different in shape (narrowly ovate as against lanceolate though in practice it can be hard to see the difference). The phyllaries are equal to or longer than the ray flowers.