Plants 35-170 cm; taproots fusiform, thickened, tuberous, with smaller lateral roots. Stems erect, green and mottled purple, glabrous proximally, midstems hispid or setose, scabrous to coarsely setose distally. Leaves: proximalmost usually withered by flowering; petiolate (midcauline sessile, clasping); blades spatulate, 4-11 × 2-5 cm, firm, coriaceous, brittle, bases attenuate, margins entire or weakly dentate, apices acute to obtuse, faces glabrate to roughly hispid abaxially; distal reduced. Heads in erect, racemiform or narrowly paniculiform arrays. Involucres cylindric to campanulate, 12-17 mm. Calyculi of 6-12, green, triangular to lanceolate bractlets 2-5 mm, coarsely setose. Phyllaries 6-10, yellow green to tan, linear-lanceolate, 8-15 mm, coarsely setose. Florets 8-19; corollas pale yellow to creamy white, 9-17 mm. Cypselae tan, subcylindric, subterete, 5-6 mm, irregularly 10-12-ribbed; pappi pale yellow or brown, 7-8 mm. 2n = 16.
Prenanthes aspera is easily recognized by its narrow, erect habit, unlobed, spatulate, weakly dentate leaves, basal leaves withered by flowering, heads in narrow, spiciform arrays, and densely setose phyllaries. The distribution closely matches that of the tall grass prairie, and like undisturbed prairies, this species is now rare or endangered in some states.
Stem strict, 5-17 dm, rough-hairy or scabrous at least above; lvs scabrous or coarsely hirsute on the lower and often also the upper side, toothed or entire, the lower ones well developed and somewhat obovate, tapering to the petiole, but soon deciduous, the others sessile or nearly so and often clasping, oblong to elliptic or lanceolate, gradually reduced upward, the larger ones 4-11 נ1-5 cm; infl narrow and elongate, thyrsoid-racemiform, the heads crowded, loosely ascending to suberect; invol 12-17 mm, coarsely and usually densely long-hairy, rather pale, with (6-)8(-10) principal bracts, fls (8-)11-14(-19), ochroleucous; pappus stramineous. Dry prairies; O. to Minn., S.D., Okla., and La. Aug., Sept.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Very local in the area shown on the map. It has been reported from Clark, Jefferson, and Steuben Counties by early authors. My specimens were found along roadsides in dry, sandy soil in prairie habitats. Late in 1938 Kriebel and I found it in hard, white clay soil in Spencer County.