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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.



G. Ledyard Stebbins

Annual or perennial herb, generally ± woolly or tomentose
Leaves alternate, sessile, entire
Inflorescence: heads disciform, many, small, ± sessile in clusters; involucres ± cylindric to spheric, often bell-shaped when pressed; phyllaries graded in several series, transparent to opaque at tips or scarious ± throughout; receptacle flat, naked
Pistillate flowers many, in several series; corollas very slender, minutely lobed, cream to pale yellow or tip reddish
Disk flowers few; corollas ± cylindric to funnel-shaped, whitish to purplish; anther bases short-tailed; style branches wider at tip, truncate
Fruit < 1 mm, oblong; pappus of many fine bristles, bases sometimes fused
Species in genus: ± 120 species: worldwide
Etymology: (Greek: lock of wool)


G. luteo-album L.

Annual 15–60 cm, generally white-(yellow-)woolly, unscented
Stems 1–several from base, branched below or above, densely leafy below
Leaves 10–60 mm, linear to spoon-shaped, short-decurrent
Inflorescence: heads many in spheric clusters; involucre 3–4.5 mm, widely cylindric to ovoid; phyllaries smooth, transparent, whitish to yellowish above, ± glabrous
Flowers 40–100; pistillate corollas 1.5–2 mm
Fruit: pappus bristles falling together or in clusters
Chromosomes: 2n=14
Ecology: Fields, waste places
Elevation: < 2100 m.
Bioregional distribution: Outer North Coast Ranges, c&s Sierra Nevada, Great Central Valley, w Central Western California, Southwestern California, East of Sierra Nevada, Desert
Distribution outside California: widespread weed; native to Eurasia
Flowering time: All year

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