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Acamptopappus sphaerocephalus

Watercolor of Acamptopappus sphaerocephlus © by Michael Plagens

Illustrated from a living swpecimen observed in the Harcuvar Mts., La Paz Co., Arizona, USA, 05 April 1993.

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RANGE:The Upland Sonoran Desert and transition to chaparral and Mojave Desert habitat northwest from Phoenix, Arizona. Ranges into Nevada and California.

SHRUB: This plant is usually less than 1½ meters tall and the stems are slightly woody.

LEAVES: Small, elyptic and alternate.

ACHENES: The somewhat flattened achenes (single seed inside a hull - e.g. sunflower seed) have a tubercled texture and a series of fine bristles at apex (enlarged view shown at upper right).

PHYLLARIES: (The bracts forming the composite head.) Several series of shorter to longer bracts.

FLOWERS: Five-poined yellow flowers are borne in composite heads of 10 to 20.  There are no ray florets.


Flowering shrub, rayless goldenhead, Acamptopappus sphaerocephlus, photo © by Michael Plagens

This fully in bloom shrub was found in the Colorado Desert portion of Joshua Tree National Monument, California, USA. May 2010.

The caterpillar of a small moth may be found inhabiting galls at the growing tips. At first these galls may appear to be some sort of fruit or seed capsule.  An example of these galls is shown at lower right.

Like many desert shrubs, goldenhead often shows the scars of battle against drought in the form of twigs and branches that have repeatedly died back and regrown.

Asteraceae -- Sunflower Family

More Information:

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2011