Sep. 20, 2018

Carolina desert chicory, Pyrrhopappus carolinianus

Carolina desert chicory is one of the aster family plants with flower heads composed entirely of ray flowers. If you take a long tubular flower, slit the top, and lay it flat, you would have ray flowers like these. At the very bottom, where the rays meet the ovaries, there is still a tube. Each of the dark pistils, surrounded by their yellow staminate columns, projects from a tube at the bottom of a ray. The outer rays almost seem to have no pistils, but you can see the shadows of them through the most recent flowers. So here you have the third division of aster family flowers. Each flower making one seed, but doing it in fascinatingly beautiful and different ways. One seed at a time, bunched together in these beautiful heads, works extremely well. The aster family has more species than any other, and certainly more showy flowers. The closest rivals, grasses and sedges, have taken an entirely different track. Carolina desert chicory grows in fields in AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NE, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WV. Clarke Co GA, 7/7/18.