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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



David J. Keil, Family Editor and author, except as specified

Annual to tree
Leaves basal or cauline, alternate to whorled, simple to compound
Inflorescence: 1° inflorescence a head, each resembling a flower, 1–many, generally arrayed in cymes, generally subtended by ± calyx-like involucre; flowers 1–many per head
Flowers bisexual, unisexual, or sterile, ± small, of several types; calyx 0 or modified into pappus of bristles, scales, or awns, which is generally persistent in fruit; corolla radial or bilateral (rarely 0), lobes generally (0)4–5; stamens 4–5, anthers generally fused into cylinder around style, often appendaged at tips, bases, or both, filaments generally free, generally attached to corolla near throat; pistil 1, ovary inferior, 1-chambered, 1-seeded, style 1, branches 2, generally hair-tufted at tip, stigmas 2, generally on inside of style branches
Fruit: achene, cylindric to ovoid, generally deciduous with pappus attached
Genera in family: ± 1300 genera, 21,000 species (largest family of dicots): worldwide. Largest family in CA. Also see tribal key to CA genera: Strother 1997 Madroño 44(1):1–28. See glossary p. 25 for illustrations of general family characteristics.



Annual, perennial herb, glabrous to ± hairy
Stems generally erect, often winged, generally glabrous below, ± short-hairy above
Leaves simple, alternate, gland-dotted
Inflorescence: heads radiate or discoid; involucre disk-shaped; phyllaries in 1–3 series, free or ± fused, subequal or outer longer; receptacle strongly convex to spheric or conic, naked
Ray flowers fertile or sterile; corollas yellow; ligule fan-shaped, generally strongly 3-lobed
Disk flowers many; corollas 4–5-lobed, yellow to red or purplish brown; anther appendages short-triangular; style branches ± truncate
Fruit obconic, ribbed, ± hairy; pappus of 5–10 scales or 0
Species in genus: ± 35 species: North America, South America
Etymology: (Helen of Troy)
Reference: [Bierner 1972 Brittonia 24:331–355]


H. autumnale L.

Stem 2–10 dm; branches few–many
Leaves mostly cauline; lower often with short, winged petioles; upper sessile, decurrent; blades oblanceolate to elliptic, obtuse to acute, generally ± toothed, glabrous or sparsely hairy
Inflorescence: heads several–many in a ± flat-topped cyme; peduncles 3–10 cm, short-hairy; receptacle 3–5 mm diam
Ray flowers 10–20; ligules 10–25 mm
Disk flowers: corollas 5-lobed, 3–3.5 mm, yellow throughout
Fruit 1.5–2 mm, sparsely hairy; pappus scales awn-tipped, 1–1.5 mm
Chromosomes: 2n=32,34,36
Ecology: Wet places
Elevation: < 2000 m.
Bioregional distribution: North Coast, Klamath Ranges, Modoc Plateau
Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, e N.America
Highly variable.


var. montanum (Nutt.) Fernald

Plant generally 1.5–6 dm, densely puberulent and glandular
Ray flowers: ligules ± 10 mm
Ecology: Wet places
Elevation: 500–2000 m.
Bioregional distribution: eastern Klamath Ranges, Modoc Plateau
Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico

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