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Click to read about the Erigeron genus.

Erigeron eximius
Erigeron eximius
Erigeron eximius (Splendid Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane.  Woodlands.  Summer.
Above:
Eagle Peak Trail, August 29, 2104.
Left: Little Taylor Creek Trail. August 20, 2007.

Erigeron eximius is found in all Four Corners states but it is often overlooked even though it can be abundant.  Along a short section of the Little Taylor Creek Trail where some of these photographs were taken, E. eximius was showy in its typical fashion, spreading by underground roots (rhizomes) and by above ground stolons and producing a mass of basal leaves.  Very few of these basal leaf clusters produce flower stems, as the photographs show.

Interestingly, as common as this plant is in Montezuma and Dolores Counties, Colorado, it is not recorded in either the University of Colorado Herbarium or in the Catalog of Four Corners Flora.  Such omissions are not uncommon, and there is, therefore, still much that amateur botanists can discover, collect, and contribute.

Also of interest (and confusion) is the fact that Erigeron eximius is described (see below) with different characteristics in various botanical floras.

Click to see Oreochrysum parryi which, until it produces its small yellow flowers, can be confused with E. eximius, because it grows in similar habitats and also produces a vast number of basal leaves and few flowering stalks.

Edward Greene named this plant in 1898 from a specimen he collected in Colorado in 1896.  "Eximius" is Latin for "extraordinary" or "splendid".

Erigeron eximius (Splendid Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane.  Woodlands.  Summer.
Little Taylor Creek Trail. August 20, 2007.

Erigeron eximius basal and lower leaves usually have long petioles; the blades range from two to seven inches long; stem leaves are sparse and upper stem leaves clasp the stem and are reduced in size. 

The basal leaves of the plants in these photographs were five to seven inches long and the stem leaves also were larger than the length given in most botanical keys.  The stem leaves often considerably surpass the internode length (the distance between the point where each leaf is attached to the stem).  Stem leaves are said by Weber to be "little if at all longer than the internodes", but an Intermountain Flora illustration shows some variations in E. eximius with leaves much longer than the internodes.

Erigeron eximius (Splendid Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane.  Woodlands.  Summer.
Little Taylor Creek Trail. August 20, 2007.

Erigeron eximius stems range from four to twenty four inches tall (generally toward the taller measurement) and are generally straight and unbranched until they reach the top where they branch without leaves into several flower heads.  You can see the typical arched branching in the bottom center of the photograph at left and in the photograph at the top of this page.  The plant at left is about eighteen inches tall.

Ray flowers range from very light blue-pink to white and the latter can make the plant appear very similar to Erigeron coulteri.  If you flip the flower head over and look at the hairs of E. coulteri you will see that they are fairly straight, long, and mostly dark; those of E. eximius are straight, short, and white  --  and not so numerous. You will also notice that the tips of the phyllaries of E. eximius are often purple and have short, sticky (glandular) hairs.

Erigeron eximius (Splendid Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane.  Woodlands.  Summer.
Little Taylor Creek Trail. August 20, 2007.

Erigeron eximius phyllaries are green (sometimes with red-tinged ("anthocyanic" tips). In the Four Corners region the phyllaries are commonly equal or near-equal in length (as A Utah Flora and Intermountain Flora indicate they should be), but the Flora of North America indicates that phyllaries are in 3-4 different lengths. The photograph at left shows the phyllaries in three different but very nearly equal lengths. The phyllaries are glandular, i.e., with sticky hairs. You can see a few dark spots on the phyllaries where grains of sand are stuck to the glandular hairs.

Pappus hairs, the fine silky hairs that top each seed (not shown), are in two rows; the inner row is about three millimeters long and the outer row is so short (about a fifth of a millimeter) that it really requires a microscope to see.  The pappus hairs are tawny.

The shape, color, and number of rows of phyllaries and pappus are often significant in identifying members of Asteraceae (the Sunflower Family).  One needs a good quality 10 power hand lens to see and enjoy these details.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Erigeron eximius