A Tale of Two Tassleflowers

Emilia sonchifolia by bob montnaro
Lilac tassleflower (Emilia sonchifolia) is flourishing at the (Pelican Island) Audubon House and looks lovely in the photograph above taken by Bob Montanaro, Pelican Island Audubon Society Office Manager. Yes, this non-native annual is attractive to butterflies and other pollinators, but it can be excessively prodigious in its reproduction: Each flower produces a copious amount of seeds (achenes) each adorned with its own very effective parachute (pappus) to aid its dispersal by the wind …
Emilia sonchiflora seed head by bob montanaro
The leaves of lilac tassleflower lack a petiole (leafstem) and clasp the stem. Note the hairiness and reddish coloration of its stem and the leaves.
Lilac tassleflowers of all ages are ‘volunteering’ in the (Pelican Island) Audubon House landscape beds and lawn. Young plants begin as a cluster of basal rounded leaves.
Lilac tassleflower differs in flower color from the more common Florida tassleflower (Emilia fosbergii). Florida tassleflower, also known as flora’s tassleflower, has red urn-shaped flowers and is shown below.
The clasping leaves of Florida tassleflower shown below are all green and tend to be less hairy.
Cupid’s shaving brush is a common name for both of these species. Like many other members of the daisy (Asteraceae) family, both of these pretty annual weeds attract butterflies & other pollinators, but given their dandelion-like dispersal, caution with them in your own landscape is advisable.

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