Chondrilla juncea L.

Rush Skeletonweed


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© SRTurner

Family - Asteraceae/Cichorieae

Habit - Taprooted biennial or perennial forb with milky sap.

Stems - Spreading to erect, to 1.5 m, rushlike, usually branched, sparsely leafy, bristly-hairy near the base, glabrous upward.

Chondrilla_juncea_stem1.jpg Stems near base.

© SRTurner

Chondrilla_juncea_stem2.jpg Upper stem.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate, simple, sessile or short-petiolate. Basal leaves to 12 cm long, oblanceolate, the margins runcinate, withered by flowering time. Stem leaves few, reduced, 2-20 cm long, 1-8 mm broad, linear or narrowly elliptic, glabrous.

Chondrilla_juncea_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Chondrilla_juncea_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Flowers solitary or in small clusters in branch axils.

Chondrilla_juncea_inflorescence1.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Chondrilla_juncea_inflorescence2.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Heads - Ligulate. Involucres cylindrical, 9-12 mm long. Involucral bracts in two series, the outer short and crownlike, the inner with 7-9 linear bracts, these 9-12 mm long, glabrous to sparsely tomentose. Heads with 9-12 florets.

Chondrilla_juncea_heads.jpg Flowering heads.

© DETenaglia

Chondrilla_juncea_involucre.jpg Involucres.

© SRTurner

Florets - Ligulate, perfect, the corollas bright yellow, with a pappus of soft bristles.

Chondrilla_juncea_florets.jpg Florets.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Achenes 3-4 mm long, with numerous ribs, also with numerous small, scaly projections near the tip, tan, the beak 5-6 mm long and bearing numerous white pappus bristles.

Chondrilla_juncea_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Roadsides, rangelands, fields, pastures, open disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to Eurasia.

Lookalikes - Lygodesmia juncea, also many other members of the Cichorieae tribe.

Other info. - This species has not yet been recorded from Missouri. It is included on this website because it is a common weed across portions of the U.S. and is slowly expanding its range, and might be expected to make an appearance in Missouri at some point. The flowering heads of the plant are similar to those of many other related species, but the nearly naked, wiry stems are characteristic. The plant's nearly leafless stems and skeletal aspect somewhat resemble Lygodesmia juncea, but that plant has pinkish florets.

Chondrilla juncea is considered a noxious weeds in several western states. The taproot is slender but deep, and effective at scavenging scarce water. The wiry stems and their sticky latex tend to clog harvesting equipment, and have been reported to cause choking in cattle. The plant can be spread by root fragments produced by tilling. On the other hand, the rosette and early bolting stages are palatable and nutritious to sheep and goats. Continuous grazing at the rosette stage will inhibit spread of the plants.

Photographs taken in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, MI, 9-16-2014, at the Bliss rest area, Gooding County, ID, 8-21-2019, and near Loda Lake, Newaygo County, MI, 8-29-2020 (SRTurner).