Malacothrix saxatilis (Nutt.) Torrey & A. Gray var. tenuifolia
(Nutt.) A. Gray

Short-Leaved Cliff Aster
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)


Cliff aster is a suffrutescent, sparsely-branched, glabrous to tomentose, herbaceous perennial, somewhat woody at the base, and with stems often growing at an angle from the root crown.  The basal and lower cauline leaves are lanceolate from 1" to 4" long, obtuse-tipped, coarse-toothed or pinnately cleft, and usually wither early.  The upper leaves are reduced and normally entire-margined.  The flowering heads are ligulate, that is, they contain only 5-lobed ligulate flowers.  The flowers are sparse, solitary, and white with a rose tint resulting from the stripes on the undersurface, and are about 1-1/4" in diameter.  There are 3-4 series of linear-lanceolate involucral bracts which have scarious margins.  The fruit is a minutely spiny, slightly ribbed achene. Cliff aster is a very abundant coastal sage scrub and chaparral plant, often found on trailsides, roadbanks and open, disturbed areas to 6000', blooming from March to September, but not uncommonly found in flower at any time of the year. There are several named variants, but only one south of Santa Barbara Co. and not restricted to the Channel Islands.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Malacothrix 2) saxatilis 3) tenuifolia.
Pronunciation: ma-la-KO-thrix sax-AT-il-is ten-yoo-i-FO-lee-a.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.


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