Krigia cespitosa (Raf.) K.L. Chambers
Common Dwarf Dandelion
Family - Asteraceae
Stems - Multiple from the base, from slightly thickened roots, branching, herbaceous, erect to ascending, mostly glabrous or with a few glandular hairs near the base of the stem leaves and in the internodes, glaucous, terete or slightly ridged from decurrent leaf midrib tissue, to +15cm tall, with white milky sap.
Leaves - Cauline leaves mainly opposite to sub-opposite, sessile, linear-spatulate, entire or with a few coarse-shallow teeth, light bluish-green, acute, glabrous, to +5cm long, +1cm broad. Upper leaves shorter and more broad than the lower.
Inflorescence - Single flower heads terminating long peduncles in an umbel-like arrangement from the upper leaf axils. Peduncles to -5cm long, glabrous below, with glandular hairs at the apex below the involucre.
Involucre - Involucre to 5mm long, 6mm broad (in fruit), smaller in flower, cupulate. Phyllaries +/-8, uniseriate, ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, 5mm long, to +2mm broad, acute, the tips slightly spreading (in fruit).
Ray flowers - Flowers +/-25 per head, yellow to yellow-orange, fertile. Receptacle naked, dome-shaped.
Disk flowers - Absent.
Fruits - Achenes brown in fruit, 1.5mm long, .5-.8mm broad, ribbed and rugose (under magnification), glabrous. Pappus absent.
Flowering - April - June.
Habitat - Low moist fallow fields, sandy open alluvial ground, glades, meadows, lawns, prairies, upland sterile slopes and ridges, pastures, ditches, sloughs, ponds, railroads.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - This little species can be found mainly in the southern half of the state. The plant can be easily identified by its sub-opposite leaves, milky sap, yellow-orange ray flowers, and glaucous stems. It is the only Krigia species growing in Missouri which has no pappus on the florets. The achenes therefore lack the fluffy tuft, such as in dandelion "seeds," common to most plants in the aster family.
Photographs taken in Van Buren, MO., 5-28-04, and in Hunter, AL., 4-3-05 (DETenaglia); also at Otter Slough Conservation Area, 5-20-2014 (SRTurner).