Lygodesmia juncea (Skeletonweed) - photos and description

 


Lower stem leaf in above photo


Upper stem leaf in above photo

General: Perennial plants with an upright, branching growth habit and very narrow leaves. Plant glabrous, foliage is grey-green or bluish-green in colour. Plants have milky sap.

Flowers: Flower heads are numerous growing singly at stem tips, pink, having 4 or 5 toothed petals. We measured flower heads at 2 cm diameter.

Leaves: Leaves linear with a sharp tip, the upper leaves much reduced. I measured a leaf at 3.5 cm long and 2 mm wide, and we measured an upper leaf at only 4 mm long and less than 1 mm wide.

Height: Height is listed in Budd's Flora to 40 cm.

Habitat: Dry, often sandy prairie.

Abundance: Common.

Origin: Native.

Similar species: It's easy to confuse this plant with Annual Skeletonweed, Shinnersoseris rostrata. The plants can be readily distinguished if you find them in flower, the flowers of the Shinnersoseris rostrata are considerably smaller less than 1 cm in diameter, have 6 to 10 petals, are not toothed. Also, the leaves of Shinnersoseris rostrata are much longer at 5 to 20 cm long. And, the leaves near the top of the stems of Lygodesmia juncea are very short almost scale-like, while those of Shinnersoseris rostrata are long.

You might also confuse this plant with the very rare Rush Pink, Stephanomeria runcinata. However, that plant's lower leaves are lobed or have large teeth, while none of the leaves of Lygodesmia juncea have lobes or teeth.

When and where photographed: Photos taken June 30th, steep hillsides of the Qu'Appelle Valley, about 30 km north of our home in Regina, SK.