Gamochaeta purpurea (L.) Cabrera

purple cudweed

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Purple cudweed is native to eastern North America, but has become a weed in many other parts of the world. The Houma Indians used tea of dried plants as a cold and flu remedy.

Habitat

Coastal beaches (sea beaches), forest edges, grassland, meadows and fields, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Leaf type
leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
Ray flower color
NA
Tuft or plume on fruit
at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
Spines on plant
the plant has no spines
Leaf blade length
10–60 mm
Disk flower number
more than 50
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bract color
    the bracts are colored, or at least tinged with, pink, red or purple
    Bract cycle number
    there are three or more cycles of bracts
    Bract outer side hair type
    the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces, with curled, tangled, matted, or woolly hairs
    Bract outer side hairs
    the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract shape
    • the main bracts are lanceolate (widest above the base, then taper narrowly towards the tip)
    • the main bracts are of a different shape than the given options
    • the main bracts are ovate (egg-shaped)
    Bract spines
    the bracts have no spines
    Bract texture
    the bracts appear thin, flexible and nearly translucent
    Bract tip shape
    • the tips of the bracts acute (have a sharp point)
    • the tips of the bracts are acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    Bracts
    there are at least two distinct forms of bracts in different cycles
    Disk flower color
    • blue to purple
    • yellow
    Disk flower number
    more than 50
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Disk flower shape
    the disk flower is tube-shaped (cylindrical), or gradually widening like a funnel
    Flower head number
    each flowering stem has four or more flower heads on it
    Flower head outer flowers
    at the outer edge of the flower head, the flowers have no enlarged lobe or strap, and are of similar size as those in the center of the disk
    Flower head platform
    the base has no bristles or papery scales
    Flower head platform surface
    NA
    Flower head position
    some or all the flower heads are grouped in clusters of two or more
    Flower head profile
    the disk is flat or nearly flat across the top
    Flower head shape
    • the flower head is shaped like a cone with the point up
    • the sides of the flower head are roughly parallel, like a cylinder
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
    Height of flower head base
    4–4.5 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    • the flower heads grow in clusters from the axils of the branches or leaves
    • the inflorescence is not flat-topped but appears rounded, with some flower heads distinctly higher than others
    Inflorescence stem
    hairs are present on the stem of the inflorescence
    Ovary attachment
    the ovary is attached at or near the base
    Ovary cross-section
    the ovary is compressed (flattened)
    Ovary hair type
    the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary hairs
    the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary profile
    in profile, the ovary is oblong (roughly rectangular but rounded at the ends)
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles are hairy
    Ray flower color
    NA
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Ray flowers
    NA
    Ray length
    0 mm
    Reproductive system
    some of the flowers on the plant have only carpels or stamens, while others have both carpels and stamens
    Scale tip
    NA
    Smaller bracts at base of bracts
    there is a cycle of much smaller bracts outside the cycle of larger and longer bracts
    Style branch number
    the style has two branches
  • Fruits or seeds
    Number of pappus parts
    11 or more
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    0.6–0.7 mm
    Seed hair tuft bases
    the pappus hairs are attached to one another near the base
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs are hooked or barbed
    Seed hairs uniform
    all the pappus hairs are approximately the same length
    Seed tuft type
    the pappus is made of very fine hairs or bristles
    Top of disk flower ovary
    NA
    Tuft or plume on fruit
    at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
  • Glands or sap
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant has one or more free-standing stems
    Plant lifespan
    • the plant is annual, it lacks evidence of previous years' growth
    • the plant is biennial, it appears as either first year (non-reproductive) plants or second year plants with flowers or fruit
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
  • Leaves
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    • the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has no petiole
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has tangled or woolly-looking hairs
    Leaf blade length
    10–60 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is spatulate (spoon-shaped; narrow near the base, then suddenly widening to a rounded tip)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    there is no noticeable color variation on the upper surface of the leaf
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip
    Leaf blade width
    5–14 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    0 mm
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaflet number
    0
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • grasslands
    • meadows or fields
    • sea beaches
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Stem internode hair type
    at least some of the hairs on the stem are tangled, matted or woolly
    Stem internode hairs
    the stem has hairs between the nodes

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
historical (S-rank: SH), special concern, extirpated (code: SC*)
Maine
extirpated (S-rank: SX), potentially extirpated (code: PE)
Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Rhode Island
historical (S-rank: SH), state historical (code: SH)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Gamochaeta pensylvanica:
stem leaf blades obovate-spatulate, loosely tomentose to glabrate abaxially, weakly bicolored as to the abaxial and adaxial surface, and outer involucral bracts acuminate-apiculate at apex (vs. G. purpurea, with stem leaf blades usually oblanceolate, closely tomentose abaxially, strongly bicolored as to the abaxial and adaxial surface, and outer involucral bracts acute at apex).
Omalotheca sylvatica:
involucre 5-7 mm tall, body of cypsela sparsely strigose, 1-1.5 mm long, and plants perennial (vs. G. purpurea, with involucre 3-5 mm tall, body of the cypsela glabrous, 0.4-0.9 mm long, and plants annual).

Synonyms

  • Gnaphalium purpureum L.

Family

Asteraceae

Genus

Gamochaeta

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Gamochaeta purpurea (L.) Cabrera NC

purple cudweed. Gnaphalium purpureum L. • CT, MA, ME, RI. Sandy soils of fields, grasslands, woodland margins, and beaches.