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Plants of fields, roadsides, open disturbed areas.  Flowers July to September.  Not native.

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 discoidRay florets are lackingInvolucres are 15-18 mm high.  Florets are 40-100+.  Florets are all the same size and shape (i.e., not enlarged). Corollas are pink/magenta, tubular, 5-lobed, bisexual and fertile.  Appendages of primary involucral bracts are dry, thin, triangular in shape, dark brown to black, with comb-like fringes along the edges.  Innermost involucral bracts (i.e., toward the top of the involucre) may be rounded or truncated and irregularly cut along the top margin.  Appendages of involucral bracts overlay and largely obscure the bodies of the adjacent involucral bracts.

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.  The pappus is of minute (0.5-1 mm) blackish bristles (sometimes falling off).

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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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