Froelichia gracilis (Hook.) Moq.
Family - Amaranthaceae
Stems - To 60cm tall, from taproot, branching at base, ascending or slightly procumbent, herbaceous, erect, arachnoid pubescent.
Leaves - Opposite, sessile, mostly at base of plant, linear-oblong, entire, arachnoid pubescent below, sericeous above (the hairs swollen basally), acute, to +7cm long, -1cm broad.
Inflorescence - Terminal and lateral spikes. Lateral spikes sessile. Bracts subtending flowers densely lanate, pinkish-tinged at apex.
Flowers - Apetalous. Calyx tubular, 5-lobed, pinkish-tinged, densely lanate, 2.2mm long(in flower). Stamens 5, included. Filaments connate and forming a tube. Anthers yellow, .2-.3mm long. Ovary and style compressed. Ovary ovoid-rotund. Style scarious-green, .4mm long. Stigma capitate, globose. Fruiting calyx to +3mm long, with 2 rows of spines. Urticle with a single spine.
Flowering - May - September.
Habitat - Glades, sandy open ground, streambanks, gravel bars, railroads.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - Most plants from the Amaranthaceae have flowers which are very
difficult to decipher without a good scope or lens. The flower parts are
very small and typically indistinct. F. gracilis is
no exception, but it is, however, easy to ID in the field because of its
basally branching habit and wooly-arachnoid stems and flowers. Another
species, F. floridana (Nutt.) Moq. is found in Missouri
and the two species hybridize. F. floridana has thicker
stems, broader leaves, and doesn't typically branch at the base. Both species
can be found in many scattered counties throughout Missouri.
Photographs taken at Logan Creek, Reynolds County, MO., 6-29-03.