Seed Study - Identifying Native Forb Seedlings

Species: Achillea millefolium
Common name: common yarrow

Seedling Identification: Seedlings are tiny with dissected leaves. Leaves are very pungent with a sage-like smell, so beware of confusing this with Artemisia frigida. Achillea millefolium has leaves that are much more dissected.

Species: Ambrosia psilostachya
Common name: western ragweed

Seedling identification: First leaves are tri-lobed and coarsely pubescent. Sharp outward pointing hairs line the leaf margin.

Species: Amorpha canescens
Common name: leadplant

Seedling Identification: Small, round dull green cotyledons emerge and are followed by true leaves of the same shape and hue.

Species: Anemone cylindrica
Common name: Candle anemone

Seedling identification: Lobed trifoliate leaves with long soft hairs. Similar to Potentilla pensylvanica, but has narrower leaves that are more triangular.

Species: Artemisia frigida
Common name: fringed sagewort, prairie sagewort

Seedling Identification: First leaves are tri-lobed, gray green with pubescence. Leaves crushed smell like sage. Just emerged seedlings are easy to confuse with Achillea millifolium.

Species: Artemisia ludoviciana
Common name: white sage, man sage

Seedling Identification: Cotyledons are small and rounded. First true leaves are round with slight pubescence.

Species: Asclepias speciosa
Common name: showy milkweed

Seedling Identification: Shiny, bright green cotyledons are oblong and rounded. Cotyledons elongate with growth. The first true leaves are very long and narrow, rounded at the tip and stand upright.

Species: Brickellia eupatorioides (Kuhnia eupatorioides)
Common name:
false boneset

Seedling Identification: Light green in color, with opposite, ovate, petioled, minutely toothed leaves with a prominent mid-vein and moderate pubescence.

Species: Chamaesyce glyptosperma (Euphorbia glyptosperma)
Common name: ribseed sandmat

Seedling Identification: Red stems with small oval leaves that are dull green on the upper surface and red underneath. Leaves lay fairly flat on the ground.

Species: Chamaesyce stictospora (Euphorbia stictospora)
Common name:
slimseed sandmat

Seedling Identification: Minute seedling with 2 deep green cotyledons and leaves that are purple as they emerge. Leaves are covered with coarse hair. Mature leaves are green on the top and purple on the bottom.

Species: Cirsium undulatum
Common name: wavy leaf thistle

Seedling Identification: These seedlings look very similar to Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium) seedlings. However the first leaves of wavy leaf are less lobed and have very fine spines off the leaf edges.

Species: Dyssodia papposa
Common name: fetid marigold, dogweed

Seedling Identification: Rounded cotyledons with the first true leaves being ragged and three pointed at emergence. The true leaves have orange glands at the base of the lobes and a "fetid" smell hence the common name.

Species: Echinacea angustifolia
Common name: purple coneflower

Seedling Identification: Cotyledons are bean-like and smooth. The first true leaf emerges alone, is long, narrow, moderately to densely hairy and has an entire margin.

Species: Erysimum asperum
Common name: western wallflower

Seedling Identification: Spatulate, petioled, sand paper textured leaves that have hairs that lie pointing to the distal end of the leaves.

Species: Euphorbia dentata
Common name:
toothed spurge

Seedling Identification: Lanceolate, irregularly serrate leaves with pubescence on top and bottom, plus some times having red spots. Cotyledons are quite large, round and petioled.

Species: Grindelia squarrosa
Common name: curlycup gumweed

Seedling identification: Very similar to the Solidago genus; however, Grindelia seedlings are much more "toothy" and have glands at the base of the teeth. Leaves are lanceolate to spatulate and rough to the touch.

Species: Gutierrezia sarothrae
Common name: broom snakeweed

Seedling identification: Cotyledons and true leaves are long, narrow and dark green and have a turpentine smell when the foliage is crushed. The seedling can easily be confused with Salsola iberica, but the later doesn’t have the turpentine smell.

Species: Helianthus annuus
Common name: annual sunflower

Seedling Identification: Fairly large rounded cotyledons with large, pubescent true leaves.

Species: Heterotheca villosa (Chrysopsis villosa)
Common name: hairy false goldenaster

Seedling Identification: Small rounded cotyledons and spatulate leaves that are dull green and have very long coarse hair.

Species: Ipomoea leptophylla
Common name: bush morningglory

Seedling identification: The very distinctive cotyledons are lobed, smooth and large in size. Seed coat is fairly persistent after the plant emerges, often staying attached until the cotyledons unfold.

Species: Liatris punctata
Common name: dotted gayfeather, dotted blazing star

Seedling identification: Small dark cotyledon leaves. The first true leaf that emerges from between the cotyledons is long and narrow, with a pronounced light colored midvein, has sparse hair on the margin and gray hair on the underside.

Species: Lithospermum incisum
Common name:
narrow leaf gromwell

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are very round. First true leaves are coarsely hairy, narrow, have a prominent midvein and are dark green in color.

Species: Mirabilis linearis
Common name: narrow leaf four o’clock

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are large and very round. The first true leaves are long and narrow with a long petiole. The mid-vein is conspicuous on the leathery leaves.

Species: Monarda fistulosa
Common names: bee balm, horse mint, wild bergamot

Seedling Identification: Easily confused with another mint, Salvia reflexa, this species is gray green in color and Salvia is bright green. Monarda fistulosa has distinctive triangular shaped, notched, cotyledons that are thickened and leathery. The first true leaves to emerge are rounded at the tips, finely pubescent and prominently veined. Later leaves are very serrate and pointed at the tip.

Species: Onosmodium bejariense (Onosmodium molle)
Common name: false gromwell, soft hair marbleseed

Seedling identification: Leaves have parallel venation and soft long hair, are quite large,ovate and rounded at the tip.

Species: Opuntia sp.
Common name: prickly pear

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are succulent in appearance, and brownish in color. Spines are obvious once the stem starts to emerge.

Species: Penstemon grandiflorus
Common name: shell leaf penstemon, large beardtongue

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are tiny, narrow, pointed and waxy looking. Initially, when the true leaves emerge one is longer than the other, and the leaves are fairly narrow. As the leaves grow they widen at the center.

Species: Plantago patagonica
Common name:
wooly plantain, wooly indianwheat

Seedling identification: Long narrow, wooly, strap-like leaves come from a rosette.

Species: Potentilla pensylvanica
Common name: Pennsylvania cinquefoil

Seedling Identfication: First true leaves are tri-lobed, almost thickened and have very soft, fine hair.

Species: Psoralidium tenuiflorum
Common name:
slimflower scurfpea

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are shaped like a golf club with petioles almost on the side of the leaf rather than in the center. All leaves are bright, green, shiny and smooth.

Species: Ratibida columnifera
Common name: prairie coneflower, Mexican hat

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are small and rounded. When the first true leaf emerges it stands fairly upright from the center of the cotyledons. It’s green on the top and gray on the bottom and finely pubescent. Later leaves are irregularly lobed.

Species: Rosa sp.
Common name: wild rose

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are ovate with a rounded tip, yellowing before dropping. First true leaves are trifoliate, rounded, toothed and dull green.

Species: Salvia reflexa
Common name:
lance leaved sage

Seedling identification: Emergent seedlings are easy to confuse with Monarda fistulosa, but are greener in color and not leathery. Cotyledons are broadly triangular but rounded at the corners and often notched. First true leaves are long, narrow, and have rounded tips. Veins are prominent.

Species: Solanum rostratum
Common name: buffalobur

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are very rounded and have a purple ring on the margins. First true leaves are lobed and have conspicuous veins, becoming more so as they mature. Mature plants are armed with spines on the stems.

Species: Solanum triflorum
Common name: cutleaf nightshade

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are oblong, rounded and dull green. True leaves emerge brighter green in color and are deeply lobed. Leaves may or may not have pubescence.

Species: Sphaeralcea coccinea
Common name: scarlet globemallow

Seedling Identification: Small rounded, lobed leaves are covered with white star shaped hairs.

Species: Symphoricarpos occidentalis
Common name: common snowberry

Seedling identification: Seedlings look much like the adult plants as far as leaf color and shape, but stem is not woody.

Species: Symphyotrichum ericoides (Aster ericoides)
Common name: white heath aster

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are rounded and often have a purple tint. Primary leaves are ovate, hairy (with longer hairs on the margins) and dark green in color.

Species: Verbena bracteata
Common name: prostrate vervain

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are fairly small, ovate and purple tinged. Primary leaves are lobed with prominent veins and are purple tinged near the stem.

Species: Verbena stricta
Common name:
hoary vervain

Seedling identification: Cotyledons are purplish, very small and narrow with rounded tips. First leaves are purplish, heavily veined and pubescent.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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