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Townsendia annua

Townsendia annua

Townsendia annua (Annual Townsendia)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Lower Cross Canyon, April 21, 2015 and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 27, 2007.

Given sufficient moisture, Townsendia annua will spread along the ground and produce a number of flowers. At the beginning of its growth season, and under drier conditions, it is common to find just one flower.

Townsendia exscapa

 Townsendia exscapa

Townsendia exscapa (Stemless Townsendia)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Mavericks Trail, Boggy Draw, May 3, 2016.

T. exscapa and T. leptotes are very similar species, so similar that a number of floras do not even agree on how to distinguish between them. In fact, on a number of key distinguishing characteristics, floras give opposite measurements. For instance, the Flora of North America indicates that the longest phyllaries of T. exscapa are 6-9 times longer than wide, and the longest phyllaries of T. leptotes are 2.5-5 times longer than wide. Flora Neomexicana indicates exactly the opposite.

The Flora of the Four Corners Region key gives three characteristics for separating T. exscapa from T. leptotes but they assigned the measurements of these three characteristics for T. exscapa to T. leptotes and vice-versa. The Flora authors indicate that the error was noticed when the Flora had already gone to print. 

Such errors are exactly why an on-line corrections/additions page is so essential for scientific works. The authors of the Flora of the Four Corners Region did not make such a web site so no one knows about this Townsendia error.

The Flora of the Four Corners Region authors are not alone in not having a correction web page; no other floras in our area (or anywhere?) made a corrections web site before they published.

 

With all the conflicting information about Townsendia exscapa, it was difficult to key the plant. I determined that the species shown at left is T. exscapa by using the characteristics agreed on by the Flora of North America, Colorado Flora, and A Utah Flora.

In the top photograph at left, you can see that the numerous, tubular disk flowers are not yet open. Long pappus hairs are evident. The length of these hairs is diagnostic: disk pappus hairs longer than 6.5 mm are usually indicative of T. exscapa; disk pappus hairs shorter than 6.5 mm are usually indicative of T. leptotes.

In both photographs at left, you can see the short, sharp, appressed leaf hairs ("strigose hairs") of Townsendia exscapa. Leaf edges tend to roll over and several leaves show the commonly conspicuous midvein.

A close look at the phyllaries shows them in about 4 lengths overlapping each other. Phyllary edges have tiny, outward extending hairs (they are "ciliate margined") and the phyllary edges are yellow-to-brown, not green (they are "scarious margined"). The phyllaries are broadest at the bottom and taper gradually to the top ("lanceolate" shaped).

A key characteristic separating T. exscapa from T. leptotes is that the inner, longest phyllaries are 6-9 times longer than broad. Inner phyllaries of T. leptotes are 2.5-5 times longer than broad.

I have not found T. hookeri in the Four Corners region, nor has the Flora Neomexicana III or the Flora of the Four Corners Region. This species is very similar to T. exscapa and T. leptotes. It is a common species of the Front Range.

Townsendia glabella

Townsendia glabella    Townsendia glabella

Townsendia glabella (Oyster Bed Townsendia)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Mesa Verde National Park, April 11, 2016 and April 26, 2007.

In the top photograph at left, nine of the central disk flowers are open with their five, star-shaped lobes apparent. The remaining disk flowers will open over the next few sunny days.

Although "glabella" is for the glabrous (not hairy) leaves, you can see, especially on the sunlit leaves, that the leaves do have hairs, especially along the lower, narrow part of the leaves.

Townsendia incana

Townsendia incana

Townsendia incana (Easter Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 4, 2007 and April 19, 2016.

The rose-purple tinge of the phyllaries is sometimes not present and at other times is even more extensive and obvious than shown in this photograph, but other Townsendia can also have this coloring. 

The hairiness of the phyllaries and tufts of hair at their tips can be a distinguishing factor among the Townsendia species, but, again, these characteristics vary and are shared by a number of Townsendia

The top photograph shows three different length phyllaries.  Some Townsendia have only one rank of phyllaries, some have up to seven.

The second photograph at left shows the strigose (short, sharp, appressed) leaf hairs.

Townsendia incana

Townsendia incana

Townsendia incana (Easter Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 13, 2004 and May 12, 2011.

The common name "Easter Daisy" was given, we can conjecture, because someone saw the plant blooming at Easter, but its dates of blooming depend, of course, on spring rains, altitude, etc., not on the advent of Easter which varies with the coming of the full moon.  This is another example of the problem with common names.  

The plant is commonly found in bloom from March through June.  I have also found Townsendia incana blooming in the fall and early winter, as late as December.

In the second photograph, notice the commonly occurring tinges of pink.

Townsendia incana
Townsendia incana (Easter Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 17, 2009.

Flowers have been pollinated, seeds have matured, and silvery pappus hairs are ready to carry the brown seeds on the first strong winds  --  even while more flowers on the same plant are just opening.