Plant of the day: pitgland tarweed

A dry meadow has turned into a sea of blooming yellow tarweed. But when I look close, I see that there are two shades of yellow here: lemon and saffron. Pitgland tarweed is growing intermixed with the (more common?) hayfield tarweed, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Many pitgland tarweed (Holocarpha virgata) flowers grow along a single stem. Because this is a composite, each petal is actually a three-lobed ray flower. The anthers of the central disc flowers are dark, and tipped with yellow pollen. The leaves are tiny, looking more like the needles of a tree than like flower leaves. The main stalk is essentially leafless, but each flower head grows on a side-stalk that is densely spiked with yellow-green leaves.

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