Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Wingstem (Actinomeris alternifolia)

Another look at this cheery yellow composite, this time in better lighting than before. Cloudy days are much better for botanical or architectural photography than sunny days; the details rather than the shadows of the subject stand out. This plant was one of a thriving colony at the edge of the woods in Mount Lebanon, where it was blooming in early August.

Flowers. Heads in a flattish cluster; disk florets large, golden, arranged hemispherically; rays golden, drooping, rounded or slightly notched at tip, irregular in size and number, none to ten or so. (Gray says 2 to 8, but we counted 10 on one of the flower heads in this patch.)

Leaves. Sandpapery, alternate, oblong or lanceolate (the lower ones more ovate), pointed, irregularly toothed, tapering to winged petioles.

Stems. To 7 feet or more (more than 2 m); very rough; with four “wings” or thin membranes along stem.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

ACTINÓMERIS Nutt. Heads many-flowered; rays neutral, few or none. Involucral bracts few, herbaceous, nearly equal, soon defiexed beneath the globular disk. Receptacle small, chaffy. Achenes flat, obovate, winged or wingless, at maturity spreading in all directions; pappus of 2-3 smooth persistent awns. —Tall branching perennials, with serrate feather-veined leaves tapering to the base and mostly decurrent on the stem. Heads corymbed ; flowers chiefly yellow. (Name from aktis, a ray, and meris, a part; alluding to the irregularity of the rays.)

A. alternifòlia (L.) DC. Stem somewhat hairy, usually winged above. 1-2 m. high; leaves alternate or the lower opposite, oblong or ovate-lanceolate, pointed at both ends; rays 2-8, irregular. (Asquarrosa Nutt.; Verbesina alternifolia Britton.) — Rich soil, N. J. to Ont., Ia., Kan., and southw. Aug., Sept.

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  1. Pingback: Salamander Trail, Fox Chapel | Father Pitt

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