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Mr. Smarty Plants - Key for <i>Verbesina virginica</i>

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Monday - June 16, 2014

From: Winchester, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: General Botany, Plant Identification
Title: Key for Verbesina virginica
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are the stems of Verbesina virginica hairy? My in-laws have what I believe is Verbesina virginica (blooms in September here in VA) and another wild flower that blooms before it and is yellow. I'd like to dig some up for our woods but it's a bit difficult to find a key I can use. Thanks.

ANSWER:

The stems don't seem to be hairy.   You can read the description from eFloras, the online version of Flora of North America for  Verbesina virginica (Frostweed).  It doesn't mention any hairyness.

Also, I found a paper, Synopsis of Verbesina sect. Ochractinia (Asteraceae) by John Olsen in Plant Systematics and Evolution 149 (47-63) 1985 with a key to the various species of Verbesina.  Here is the introductory statement and the pertinent part of the key leading up to V. virginica:

Artificial Key to the Species of Verbesina sect. Ochractinia

Herbaceous perennials to small trees; leaves alternate, entire to pinnatifid. Heads less than 1.5(-2.0) cm in diameter (excluding the rays), usually numerous, in paniculate capitulescences. Ray florets 1 - 19, ligule white; disc florets (5 -) 13 - 30( - 75), corolla white. Achenes glabrous or pubescent (never dense), winged; pappus of (1-)2(-3) awns. Type species: Verbesina virginica L. Base chromosome number: x = 17.

1.  Leaves pinnately divided or lobed

            ……………

 1.  Leaves not pinnately divided or lobed

            15.  Stems winged (key under both leads if very thin wings present)

                  16.  Ray florets less than or equal to 9 florets per head (if 9, key out under both leads)

                        17.  Involucral bracts pilose

                              18.  Heads more than 1 cm in diameter

                                    19.  Rays 1 – 5……………………13.  V. virginica

The only mention of hairyness is: 17.  Involucral bracts pilose (i.e., The bracts beneath the flowerheads are hairy).

  From Dictionary.com:  Pilose – covered with hair, especially soft hair; furry. 

There is no mention of hairy stems in either the description of eFloras or the Key.

You can see photos from the Archive of Central Texas Plants from the School of Biological Sciences, the University of Texas and also check the photos of stems below form our Image Gallery for hairyness of the stems.  The stems are often winged but do not appear to be hairy.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Frostweed
Verbesina virginica

Frostweed
Verbesina virginica

Frostweed
Verbesina virginica

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