Annuals, 50-200 cm . Stems single, branches virgate, usually glabrous, rarely tomentose. Leaves withered at flowering; basal blades oblanceolate to spatulate, runcinate, 3-10 cm, margins pinnately lobed (faces usually glabrous, rarely tomentose); cauline much reduced, bractlike. Heads borne singly or clustered along branches. Peduncles 3-10 mm, bracteate. Calyculi of appressed or reflexed bractlets. Involucres 6-8 mm. Florets 5-9. Cypselae light tan to dark brown, 2.2-3.6 mm, faces smooth to tuberculate, not grooved; pappi (falling) of 23-28, white bristles, wholly plumose. 2n = 16.
The two subspecies of Stephanomeria virgata are often sympatric in southern California. Hybrids are found frequently.
FNA 2006, Jepson 2012
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Herbaceous annuals, to 2 m tall, stems usually solitary, branches generally long, straight, and thin (virgate), herbage usually glabrous, rarely tomentose, plants with milky sap. Leaves: Alternate, sessile or nearly so, basal blades usually withered at flowering, oblanceolate to spatulate, 3-10 cm long, margins with saw-toothed divisions facing away from the leaf tips (runcinate) or pinnately lobed, cauline blades becoming much reduced and bractlike as one moves up the stems, surfaces usually glabrous, rarely tomentose. Flowers: White, pink, or purple and often purple-tinged abaxially, borne in ligulate heads in groups of 5-9, involucres cylindric, 6-8 mm long, phyllaries usually 5-12 in 1 series (rarely more), receptacles flat, generally smooth and glabrous, epaleate, calyculi of appressed or reflexed bractlets, heads subtended by reduced, leafy bracts, infloresences borne singly or clustered along branch nodes, peduncles 3-10 mm long. Fruits: Cypsleae (achenes) cylindric, tan to dark brown, 2-3.5 mm long, surfaces smooth to tubercled, but not grooved. Pappus bristles white, free, deciduous, wholly plumose. Ecology: Unknown. Distribution: California, Nevada, Oregon. Ethnobotany: Milky plant juice used as an eye medicine. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher2012 Etymology: Stephanomeria is derived from the Greek stephane, "wreath or crown," and meros, "division", while virgata means wand-like, twiggy in growth, referring to the tall, bare stems.