Family: Asteraceae (A Utah Flora - Compositae) - Sunflower Family
Perennial herbs; stems 2” to 1.2' (5 to 35 centimeters) tall
Leaves: basal and alternate; simple; basal leaves 0.32” to 2.8” (0.8 to 7 cm) long; 0.04” to 0.2” (1 to 5 mm) wide; leaves reduced upwards; has hairs
Flowers: ray flowers and disk flowers; flower head appears to be a single flower, but is composed of several flowers (a composite). Flowers are white, pink, or violet; 25 to 60 rays; rays 0.32” to 0.6” (8 to 15 mm) long; flowers 0.08” to 0.148” (2 to 3.7 mm) wide
Pollinators: other Erigeron species are pollinated by bees, moths and butterflies
Fruits: achene – 1 seeded with hard shell
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities on saline and seleniferous clays, clay-silts, and gravel substrates
Location seen: Delicate Arch road
Other: The genus name, “Erigeron”, is from Greek “eri” meaning “early” and “geron” which means “old man” because the plant blooms early in the year and the seed's bristles resembles an old man's gray hair. The species name, “pulcherrimus”, means “beautiful”.
This family is the most advanced and complex of the dicots. The family is rich in oils and resins and is found in every part of the world, but is infrequent in the tropical rainforest. Aquatic or semi-aquatic species are also uncommon.
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.