Accounts of the Asteraceae family, better known as daisies, sunflowers or asters, vary from source to source.
However, all sources agree on its grand scale in the flowering plant world, with, generally speaking, over twenty thousand species documented.
The Flora of North America Project currently documents 418 genera, 2413 species in North America.
To non-specialists, a variation of the flower with white, yellow or reddish petals, typifies members of the family. In fact, many, but not all, Asteraceae species share the physical trait of having multiple, thin petals surrounding a central disk or eye.
The twenty two species of the genus Rudbeckia (Asteraceae family), better known as coneflowers, depart from the typical daisy appearance.
Types of Flowers
Along with Tennessee, many states officially celebrate North American Asteraceae. Maryland calls the brown daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) its state flower. Kentucky and Nebraska call the goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) the state flower, with South Carolina calling it the official state wildflower.
Kansas, the sunflower state, designated the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as its official state flower in 1903.
North Dakota and South Dakota lead the nation in commercial growing, producing seeds for oils and foods.
Gardeners think of sunflowers as bird magnets. Cardinals, sparrows, finch and other seed eating birds always favor seeds from mature summer plants.
They are annuals, fairly easy to grow. Plant seeds after the last frost, in an area that gets good sun.
Oklahoma calls the Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) its official state wildflower.
The flower's red petals, tipped with bright yellow borders, grow naturally in bunches along roadsides. They grow easily as as easy in cultivated gardens, adding color during the fall.
Daisy Fleabane, the generic name given to daisies in the genus Erigeron. The flowers are known for their very thin petals. With close to two hundred different species documented in the United States, identifying any one particular species can be problematic.
The Blazing Star refers to the Liatris genus, with approximately forty documented North American species.
As picture shows the tall, thin plants with spikes of purple flowers, an atypical daisy look.
Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) one of three Conoclinium species, grows in eastern North America.
It's a medium sized bush with triangle leaves, topped by the small clusters of purple blooming flowers, attractive to both butterflies and bees.
North America also hosts ten native skeltonplant species (genus Lygodesmia), with the nickname referring to the plant's thin, almost leafless stems.
Rose Rush (Lygodesmia aphylla) grows in the sandy soils of Florida and Southern Georgia.
Native Americans used a variety of Lygodesmia for medicinal and food purposes, however there is no data showing Rose Rush used for these purposes.
With the exception of the Southeast and Texas, the plant grows throughout North America.
The picture shows the multiple button flowers growing on branches from the plant's stem. The flowers are easily dried and often used in dried flower arrangements.
Pearly Everlasting also makes a good addition to a butterfly garden, serving as a host plant for American Painted Lady caterpillars and as a nectaring plant for small butterflies such as crescents and skippers.
Easily recognized as the tall, thin, yellow flowered plants that sway in the breeze in almost every field of the United States.(Solidago), Goldenrod often gets overlooked on flower hikes by individuals looking for flashier flowers.
The same can not be said for insects in the vicinity. Goldenrod attracts many different insects from butterflies to beetles.
Approximately seventy five different goldenrod species (Solidago) can be found in the United States. Giant Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) is the state flower for Kentucky and Nebraska.
The Gold Star (Crocidium multicaule), a Northwest species, is the sole representative of the Crocidium species in the United States.
They are among the earliest blooming plants of spring and can be identified by the eight petal flower growing on a thin stem.
Reaching about a foot in height, they often grow en masses at lower and mid elevations of grassy fields and hillsides.
The hairy appearance of the leaves explains the common name, woolly sunflowers.
Locally the flower is called Oregon Sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum) because of the bright yellow petals.
Different varieties can be found growing in many western states, making it possible, for example, to find Washington sunshine in Washington state and California sunshine in California.
© 2009-2013. Patricia A. Michaels