Palafoxia callosa (Nutt.) Torr. & Gray

Spanish Needles

Palafoxia callosa plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stems - To +40cm tall, branching, herbaceous, with appressed pubescence below and densely glandular near the apex.

Palafoxia callosa stem

Leaves - Alternate, linear, 1-3mm broad, to 5cm long, appressed pubescent (strigose), entire, petiolate or sessile, attenuate.

Palafoxia callosa leaves

Inflorescence - Single flower heads terminating peduncles in a broadly paniculate fashion. Peduncles with dense, black, stalked glands.

Palafoxia callosa pedunclePeduncles.

Involucre - Turbinate, +/-5mm tall and broad. Phyllaries linear, to +1mm wide, with black stalked glands and appressed pubescent (strigose).

Palafoxia callosa involucre

Ray flowers - Absent.

Disk flowers - Corolla pink, rose, lavender or whitish, tubular, to -1cm long. Pappus of short scales. Achenes 4-angled.

Palafoxia callosa flowers

Flowering - August - October.

Habitat - Limestone glades, bluffs, rocky soil, gravel stream banks.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species of Palafoxia is typically found on calcareous soil and is frequent in the Ozark region of Missouri. In dry years almost all the leaves may be dropped by time of flowering. On gravel bars, however, the plant is frequently robust and maintains its leaves throughout anthesis.
P. callosa is popular for butterfly gardens and is gaining popularity in cultivation. It is a magnificent species when in full bloom. The flowers fade from dark pink to white over the course of a day or two.

Photographs taken along the shores of the Elk River, McDonald County, MO., 9-10-06.