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Annual Wirelettuce

Stephanomeria exigua

Stephanomeria exigua

Family: Asteraceae (A Utah Flora - Compositae) - Sunflower Family

Annual or biennial (winter annual) herbs from a taproot; stems 2” to 2' (5 to 60 centimeters) tall; milky juice

Leaves: alternate, some in a basal cluster; simple; entire; toothed to pinnatifid or even bipinnatifid; 0.4” to 2.4” (1 to 6 cm) long

Flowers: pink to purple to white flowers all raylike, perfect; flower head appears to be a single flower, but is composed of several flowers (a composite); heads 0.5” wide; rays 0.12” to 0.32” (3 to 8 mm) long

Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by insects and wind

Fruits: achene – 1 seeded with hard shell

Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities

Location seen: park road near mile 4 (Courthouse Wash), mile 6 (Petrified Dunes), mile 8, Windows trail, Fiery Furnace

Other: This plant is related to cultivated lettuce.

The genus name, “Stephanomeria” means “crown divided” and refers to the space between the ray flowers. The species name, “exigua”, means “ impoverished, poor, meager” and may refer to a milky latex that is exuded from the plant.

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?

Close up of biological soil crust

The dirt is alive! A living crust called "Biological Soil Crust" covers much of Arches and the surrounding area. Composed of algae, lichens and bacteria, this crust provides a secure foundation for desert plants. Please stay on roads and trails to avoid trampling this important resource. More...