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Erigeron melanocephalus

Erigeron melanocephalus (Blackheaded Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Openings, tundra. Summer.
Lake Hope Trail, July 15, 2008 and
Placer Gulch, July 21, 2012.

The top photograph shows a typical view of Erigeron melanocephalus from eye-level; the bottom photograph shows a particularly lush growth in a moist area a week or so after snow melt at 12,500 feet.

Erigeron melanocephalus
Erigeron melanocephalus (Blackheaded Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Openings, tundra. Summer.
Lake Hope Trail, July 15, 2008.

Black hairs on the green phyllaries (look under the white ray flowers and see the photographs below), basal spoon-shaped leaves, and a large, showy flower identify this very small and common high altitude Erigeron.  Several short, often twisting leaves are common high on the flower stalk.  Plants can be six inches tall but they are commonly as tall as the plant in the photograph, just two inches.  Many dozens of plants often dot subalpine and alpine meadows with their brilliant white flowers.

Aven Nelson first collected this plant in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming; he named and described the plant in 1896.  "Melanocephalus" is Greek for "black head".

Erigeron melanocephalus

Erigeron melanocephalus

Erigeron melanocephalus (Blackheaded Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Openings, tundra. Summer.
Lake Hope Trail, July 15, 2008.

Erigeron melanocephalus

Erigeron melanocephalus (Blackheaded Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Openings, tundra. Summer.
Lake Hope Trail, July 15, 2008.

Varying stages in the opening of the flower heads can be seen here.  At the top, the flower head is fully open and at the very bottom the bud has just opened enough to show the ray flowers, which now appear yellow but which will soon turn white.

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 melanocephalus