Family: Asteraceae (A Utah Flora – Compositae) – Sunflower Family
Annual or winter annual herbs from taproots with milky juice; stems (6 to 37 cm) tall
Leaves: basal and alternate; simple, mostly pinnatifid; 0.28” to 4.8” (0.7 to 12 cm) long, (1 to 28 mm) wide
Flowers: 7 to 12 yellow ray flowers, 0.28” to 0.48” (7 to 12 mm) long; no disk flowers; flower head appears to be a single flower, but is composed of several flowers (a composite)
Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by insects
Fruits: achene – 1 seeded with hard shell
Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: Delicate Arch trail, Fiery Furnace
Other: The genus name, “Malacothrix”, is from the Greek “malakos” meaning “soft” and “thrix” meaning “hair” referring to the soft hairs of the pappus and the woolliness of the young plant. The species name, “sonchoides”, means "like Sonchus” which is the Greek name for sowthistle, a common name of 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.