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Machaeranthera tanacetifolia (Tahoka daisy)
Smith, R.W.

Machaeranthera tanacetifolia

Machaeranthera tanacetifolia (Kunth) Nees

Tahoka Daisy, Tansy-aster, Tansey-leaf Tansy-aster, Tansyleaf Tansyaster

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Aster tanacetifolius, Machaeranthera coronopifolia, Machaeranthera parthenium

USDA Symbol: mata2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Branched stems with fern-like leaves ending in flower heads with many bright purple, very narrow rays surrounding a yellow central disc. Tahoka Daisy is a low, spreading, 6-36 in. annual with delicate but showy, aster-like flowers. Numerous lavender rays surround a yellow center. The stems are densely covered with sharp-pointed, deeply cut leaves which appear fern-like. Plants often form clumps or mounds.

The fern-like leaves of this beautiful species make it one of the easiest to identify in a complex group. False Tahoka Daisy (M. parviflora) is similar but has smaller flower heads, each with a central disc only 1/4-1/2" (6-13 mm) wide, and less elaborately divided leaves; it occurs from Utah south to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.


From the Image Gallery

57 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , CA , CO , IL , KS , MT , NE , NM , NV , NY , OK , SD , TX , UT , WY
Native Distribution: Alberta south to southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico as far south as Zacatecas in central Mexico.
Native Habitat: Abundant in sandy soils in the Plains Country and Trans-Pecos, rarely east to stream beds of the Edwards Plateau; SD to Alberta, Canada south to north central Mexico.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained, sandy or rocky soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: This plant is upright to widely spreading and is often naturalized in a short grass meadow or on a rocky slope or other hard to maintain area. Also used to plant between flagstones. Sow seed in situ or in pots and transplant 6 to 12 inches apart in well drained soil. Periodic watering will encourage blooms.


Use Ornamental: Rock gardens, Rocky hillside, Shortgrass meadow
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native grasses for medians in Colorado Springs
June 11, 2010
Our city has stopped watering our historic landscaped medians due to severe budget shortfalls. The medians were historically tree boulevards but have had curb and gutter and blue grass added over th...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Machaeranthera tanacetifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Machaeranthera tanacetifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Machaeranthera tanacetifolia


Record Modified: 2023-01-10
Research By: DEW, JSC

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