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Camphorweed, Camphor Weed, False Goldenaster - Heterotheca subaxillaris


Family: Asteraceae - Aster family Genus Common Name: Goldenaster - False Native Status: NativeDicot Annual Herb
Heterotheca subaxillaris - Camphorweed, Camphor Weed, False Goldenaster. Synonym: Chrysopsis scabra Some authorities consider Heterotheca subaxillaris to be weedy and/or invasive. Apparently this is with good reason, as the plant is quite variable, even to the point that several authorities have considered it to be several separate species rather than a single species with multiple varieties. The different varieties have a great deal of tolerance to different conditions, allow it to thrive and force out other plants when conditions are difficult. Those that take the position of multiple species (Heterotheca latifolia, Heterotheca psammophila, and Heterotheca subaxillaris) also typically indicate that this H. subaxillaris has a native range limited to the Southeast. There have been studies that have indicated that when planted in similar environments, the morphological differences used to justify species separation are not reliable.

It looks similar to other Heterotheca and Chrysopsis species, but if you handle the plant, especially broken leaves, you'll be able to identify it by the distinct camphor-like aroma (some would call is a smell rather than an aroma.)

Found in:
AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA

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Heterotheca subaxillaris

Distribution of Heterotheca subaxillaris in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 26 May 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Date: 2011-October-02Photographer: Cindy Williamson
Nikon D40
Camphorweed is a composite with both yellow disk and yellow ray flowers. It produces two different seed types. One type, produced by the disk flowers, can germinate immediately when the conditions are right. The seed produced by the ray flowers requires a period of dormancy, and must undergo a period of high temperatures before germinating, and thus usually germinate in the fall. Both kinds of seeds can be wind-dispersed, and are frequently found along (and apparently spread by) railroads.
Heterotheca subaxillaris

Site: Leffis Key, Manatee County, FL Date: 2011-December-22Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
A single Camphorweed plant can produce over 100 flowerheads.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Heterotheca subaxillaris

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2011-October-02Photographer: Cindy Williamson
Nikon D40
Camphorweed grows up to nearly 7 feet tall. While there is typically a single primary stem, there may be branches off that primary stem in the upper part of the plant, each terminating with an inflorescence.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Heterotheca subaxillaris

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer