A VARIETY OF COMPOSITE FAMILY
BLOSSOM INVOLUCRES

NOTE: The usually greenish item with typically overlapping, scale-like things beneath flowering heads of plants in the Composite, Daisy or Sunflower Family is called the involucre. The scales are called phyllaries (pronounced FIL-uh-rees], but also can be called involucre bracts. Since involucre bracts come in many shapes, sizes and configurations, they are very important in identification of plants in the Composite Family.

The involucre of the Cowpen Daisy, Verbesina enceliodes, consists of several series of overlapping, sharp-pointed, hairy phyllaries, shown below.

Phyllaries of Cowpen Daisies, Verbesina enceliodes


The involucre of the Rocklettuce, Pinorapappus roseus, also consists of several several series of overlapping, sharp-pointed phyllaries,  but they're not hairy, are much broader, and broad at the top.

Phyllaries of Rocklettuce, Pinorapappus roseus


The Rock Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum, has only five phyllaries and they're fused together at their bases, forming a kind of bowl, as shown below:

Phyllaries of Rock Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum


The Small-flower Desert-chicory, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus, has an involucre consisting of two distinct rows of phyllaries: a series of short ones at the bottom, and a series of more numerous, much longer ones above those:

Phyllaries of Smallflower Desert-chicory, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus


Phyllaries of the Tarweed, Madia elegans, are heavily covered with hairs tipped with sticky glands that trap insects flypaper-like climbing up the stem:

Phyllaries of the Tarweed, Madia elegans


Phyllaries of the Musk Thistle, Carduus nutans, are stiff and sharp-pointed, protecting the flower head in its bud stage by encasing it, and protecting the head when the flowers are mature by pointing downward beneath it.

Phyllaries of the Musk Thistle, Carduus nutans


Phyllaries of the Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis, bear long, branched, hard and sharp spines.

Phyllaries of the Yellow Starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis