30 March 2010

Composites Blooming in March?

When I think of composites (plants in the family Asteraceae), I think of asters, goldenrods, blazing stars... late bloomers that often provide some of the last color of the season before the snow begins to fall. Can you imagine my surprise when, while in Parrish, Florida a couple of weeks ago, we came across a composite in bloom?

When we first saw this colony of plants, the solitary flower heads were closed up and nodding, exposing the pink to purple abaxial sides of the ray flowers. In addition to this characteristic feature, the scapose stems were densely white pubescent, as were the undersides of the basally disposed leaves; the upper surfaces of the leaves were shiny and dark green.

When we arrived at this population later in the day, the flower heads had opened up and were upright, displaying the white adaxial surfaces of the ray flowers and the creamy white and yellow disk flowers. This composite is appropriately known as Woolly Sunbonnets (Chaptalia tomentosa). Unlike the late-season composites I mentioned previously, this species blooms from December to May.

Pineland Daisy, as this species is also known, grows in pinelands and open woods, in sandy bogs, in open areas, and along ditches in coastal states from North Carolina to Texas. It has easily become one of my favorite composites.


Tom said...

Scott, what an interesting plant, it would be pretty cool to be a botanist year round in Florida if one could find things blooming year round.

Scott Namestnik said...

An interesting plant, indeed. I was amazed at how green everything was in Florida. Some of my coworkers drove down from Indiana... they said that everything was brown until the Florida line, when immediately things were greening up.

Bob Harms said...

These are excellent photos! I would like permission to use portions of two of your photos for a web page I am developing for Chaptalia in Texas (3 species, and I don't have access to fresh C. tomentosa specimens). My email is on the link for my comment. I will, of course, give credit to you on the page where I include the photos.

Scott Namestnik said...

Hi Bob. Sure, you have my permission to use the photos. Thanks for asking!