Stephanomeria virgata Benth. ssp. virgata

Twiggy Wreathplant
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Twiggy wreathplant, also called tall stephanomeria or rod wirelettuce, is a stiff, erect, glabrous or puberulent annual which can grow 6' to 7' tall.  Many of the specimens which were thought to be this species are now recognized as S. diegensis, including probably all in the Santa Monica Mountains.  The species name describes its overall appearance, that is virgate or with virgate branches from above the middle of the stem.  Like many of the Stephanomerias, the basal rosette of leaves is generally much withered at time of anthesis.  The lower cauline leaves are oblong or spatulate, often sinuate or shallowly lobed.  The upper leaves are small, linear and entire-margined. The flowering heads are solitary and subsessile or clustered on short, stiff branchlets. The involucre is 6-8mm and the outer phyllaries have their tips spreading.  There is a variable number of flowers per head of usually from 5 to 10, and the ligules are white to pinkish with some purplish pink beneath.  The achenes are ribbed (a characteristic which clearly differentiates it from diegensis) and the pappus bristles are clear white, plumose almost entirely along their length.  This is a common species on dry open slopes to about 6000' in the California Floristic Province, ranging from coastal sage scrub to yellow pine forest and blooming from July to October or later, although as previously mentioned, many of the coastal specimens may turn out to be diegensis. These pictures were taken on the Dripping Springs Trail in the Agua Tibia Mountains where it was found blooming profusely in December.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Stephanomeria 2) virgata.
Pronunciation: stef-an-oh-MEER-ee-a vir-GAY-ta.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.
NOTE: Subspecies are of questionable validity.

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