Helminthotheca echioides (L.) Holub

bristly ox-tongue

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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

Bristly ox-tongue originates in the Mediterranean of Europe, but has spread around the world, including parts of North America. Its name comes from the rough hooked bristles covering the stems and bracts, and the coarse leaves with pimple-like protrusions.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
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
  • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
  • opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has ray flowers only, meaning all of the individual flowers of the flower head have a strap-shaped ray, which may or may not have teeth at the very tip of the ray
Ray flower color
  • pink to red
  • yellow
Tuft or plume on fruit
at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
Spines on plant
there are spines on the plant
Leaf blade length
50–250 mm
Disk flower number
NA
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bract cycle number
    there is one main cycle of bracts
    Bract margins
    there are fine hairs along the bract margins
    Bract outer side hair type
    the bracts are hairy, with simple hairs on their outer surface
    Bract outer side hairs
    the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract shape
    the main bracts are of a different shape than the given options
    Bract spines
    • the bracts are prickly on the outer side
    • there is just one simple spine at the tip of the bract
    Bract tip extension appearance
    the projections from the bract tips have further projections from their edges, like a fringe
    Bract tip shape
    the tips of the bracts are acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    Bract width
    3.5–8
    Bracts
    the bracts in separate cycles are similar or gradually changing from the outer to inner cycles
    Disk flower color
    NA
    Disk flower lobe number
    NA
    Disk flower number
    NA
    Disk flower proportions
    NA
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Disk flower shape
    NA
    Flower head outer flowers
    at the outer edge of the flower head, each flower has a single enlarged lobe or strap
    Flower head platform
    the base has no bristles or papery scales
    Flower head profile
    the disk is flat or nearly flat across the top
    Flower head shape
    NA
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has ray flowers only, meaning all of the individual flowers of the flower head have a strap-shaped ray, which may or may not have teeth at the very tip of the ray
    Height of flower head base
    12–20 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    the inflorescence is flat-topped in profile
    Number of bracts at flower head base
    5–13
    Ovary beak
    there is a beak on the ovary
    Ovary cross-section
    • the ovary has five or more corners in cross-section
    • the ovary is compressed (flattened)
    Ovary hair type
    the ovary has hairs on it, but the hairs have no glands
    Ovary hairs
    • the ovary has hairs on it
    • the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary lines or ribs
    • there are four to six lines or ribs visible on the ovary
    • there are seven to nine ribs visible on the ovary
    • there are ten or more ribs visible on the ovary
    Ovary profile
    • in profile, the ovary is another shape
    • in profile, the ovary is roughly elliptical (widest in the middle, tapering to both ends)
    Ovary surface
    the ovary surface is textured with tiny points, bumps or wrinkles
    Peduncle hair type
    the hairs on the peduncles are simple (not branched), don’t have glands, and are not woolly
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles are hairy
    Peduncle length
    10–50 mm
    Ray flower color
    • pink to red
    • yellow
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    the ray flowers have both carpels and stamens
    Ray flowers
    • 26-50
    • more than 50
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant contain both carpels and stamens
    Smaller bracts at base of bracts
    there is no smaller, outer cycle of bracts
    Style branch number
    the style has two branches
    Swelling at base of flower head
    the peduncles are not swollen, or only slightly
    Width of flower head base
    9–12 mm
  • Fruits or seeds
    Number of pappus parts
    • 10
    • 11 or more
    Ovary beak length
    2–6 mm
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    2–6 mm
    Seed hair tuft bases
    the pappus hairs are attached to one another near the base
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs have smaller hairs along their sides
    Seed hair tuft length
    4–7 mm
    Seed hair tuft tips
    the pappus hairs are slender
    Seed tuft type
    the pappus is made of very fine hairs or bristles
    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 milky and opaque, and may be white or colored
  • 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
    there are spines on the plant
    Underground organs
    there is a thickened taproot on the plant
  • Leaves
    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
    Leaf arrangement
    • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    • opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    • the leaf has a distinct petiole
    • 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 bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    50–250 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    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 width
    10–80 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 leaf stalks
    • the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Specific leaf type
    • the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis
    • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem internode hair direction
    the hairs point mostly upwards to outwards
    Stem internode hair type
    the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    Stem internode hairs
    the stem has hairs between the nodes

Wetland Status

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Sonchus oleraceus:
pappus bristles without branches, involucral bracts arranged in 3-5 series, and leaf blades usually pinnately lobed, the terminal lobe +/- triangular (vs. H. echioides, with pappus bristles pinnately branched, involucral bracts in 1 series, and leaf blades usually toothed, sometimes pinnately lobed and then usually without a conspicuous triangular terminal segment).
Picris hieracioides:
outer series of involucral bracts numbering usually 13 or more, lanceolate to broad-linear, mostly 0.5–1.5 mm wide, and cypsela body apically narrowed but without a beak (vs. H. echioides, with outer series of involucral bracts numbering 3-5, ovate to broad-lanceolate, mostly 3–5 mm wide, and cypsela body terminated by a slender beak nearly as long as or longer than the body proper).

Synonyms

  • Picris echioides L.

Family

Asteraceae

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Helminthotheca echioides (L.) Holub E

bristly ox-tongue. Picris echioides L. • CT, MA, ME, VT. Fields, roadsides, waste areas.