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?
In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.