Verbesina alternifolia (L.) Britt.
Family - Asteraceae
Stems - To 3m tall, herbaceous, erect, multiple from the base, branching, winged, glaucous. Wings to +2mm broad, antrorse strigose on the margins, sparse pubescent.
Leaves - Alternate, sessile, lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, acuminate, reduced upward, dull dark green and scabrous adaxially, light green and less scabrous abaxially, to 25cm long, 7-8cm broad. Margins typically somewhat revolute, shallow serrate. Venation of blade expressed abaxially. Leaf tissue decurrent and winging the stem. Base of leaf and its node often purplish.
Inflorescence - Loose corymbose arrangement of terminal flower heads. Peduncles scabrous, antrorse strigose.
Involucre - Phyllaries uniseriate, reflexed, spatulate to oblanceolate, to 1cm long, 2mm broad, acute, mostly glabrous but with antrorse strigose margins.
Ray flowers - 5-8 per flower head, reflexed at maturity, sterile. Ligule yellow, +/-2.2cm long, +/-8mm broad, glabrous, with a single notch at the apex. Corolla tube greenish, antrorse strigose. Achene green in flower, 1.2mm long in flower. Pappus of two awns.
Disk flowers - Disk becoming globose with age. Corolla 5mm long, constricted for the basal 1mm, glabrous and yellow externally, 5-lobed. Lobes erect, 1.2mm long, acute. Stamens 5, included, adnate at the apex of the constriction of the corolla tube. Filaments 1mm long, compressed, with an obvious midvein, glabrous. Anthers purple, 2.2mm long, connate around the style. Style bifurcate. Stigmas yellow, curling, slightly exserted. Achenes ovate, compressed, 2mm broad and long in flower, glabrous, with a few hairs on the margins. Pappus of 2 awns. Chaff partially enclosing the achene, acuminate, +/-5mm long, keeled, antrorse strigillose on the margins and keel.
Flowering - August - October.
Habitat - Low open and rich woods, low meadows, valleys and alluvial woods near streams, ditches, thickets, roadsides.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - This showy species can be found throughout Missouri and is quite common. The plant is easy to identify in the field because of its winged stems and reflexed ray flowers and phyllaries. Many insects are attracted to the plant and it would do well in cultivation. Another species, V. helianthoides Michx., is similar but has appressed phyllaries and spreading ray flowers. V. helianthoides is less common in Missouri.
Photographs taken at the Current River Conservation Area, Reynolds County, MO., 8-10-01.