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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.



Annual, generally prostrate, often minute, generally ± short-bristly
Leaves alternate, often tufted below heads, linear or oblanceolate, entire
Inflorescence: heads radiate, ± subsessile; involucre bell-shaped or hemispheric; phyllaries many in 1 series, equal, ± folded, generally acuminate, purplish; receptacle convex, naked
Ray flowers many; ligules white to purple, often dark-veined
Disk flowers many; corollas yellow; style tips short-triangular
Fruit compressed, oblong to obovate, finely appressed-hairy, light brown; pappus of scales and generally 1 or more slender bristles
Species in genus: 2 species: sw North America
Etymology: (Greek: 1 feather, from pappus)


M. bellioides (A. Gray) H.M. Hall

Stems < 25 cm
Leaves 5–10 mm, generally linear, obtuse to subacute
Inflorescence: phyllaries 4–6 mm
Ray flowers: corollas 6–11.5 mm; ligule 5–8.5 mm
Fruit 1.5–2 mm; pappus of 0–12 bristles 1–2 mm and several slender scales 0.5–1 mm, ± dissected into bristles
Chromosomes: 2n=16
Ecology: Sandy deserts, washes
Elevation: 200–1200 m.
Bioregional distribution: Desert
Distribution outside California: to sw Utah, w Arizona, nw Mexico
Flowering time: Feb–May, Sep

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