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Plants of fields, roadsides, open disturbed areas.  Flowers July to September.  Not native.  Invasive in some states.

Perennial.  Stems are 1 or more per plant; sparsely to somewhat more densely pubescent with matted or cobwebby hairs; often branching from below midstem.  Typical height is 2 to 3+ feet.

The overall inflorescence is open, with numerous widely spreading to ascending branches, each branch bearing a small number of  flower heads, clustered toward branch tips.

Flower heads are pseudo-radiateInvolucres are 15-18 mm high.  Florets are 40-100+Peripheral florets are enlarged (relative to inner florets), neuter, 5-lobed, falsely appearing as rays, usually pink/magenta.  Central florets are bisexual and fertile; smaller than peripheral florets, corollas pink or white, tubular, apically with 5 slender, spreading lobesAppendages of involucral bracts are dry, thin, light brown, rounded or truncated and irregularly cut along the top margin.  Appendages of involucral bracts never have margins with comb-like fringes.

Basal and lower stem leaves, sometimes present at flowering, are often irregularly lobed and/or toothed.  Upper leaves are oblanceolate, lanceolate or elliptic, irregularly lobed and/or toothed, becoming smaller and untoothed/unlobed upwards and on branches.  Leaves are glabrate or thinly pubescent with matted or cobwebby hairs.

Cypselae are tan, without pappus.

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Selected references:  Keil and Ochsmann (2006)Haines (2011).

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Similar species:  other species in the genus Centaurea.

 

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