True orange flowers are relatively rare in nature. Thus when I saw an orange agoseris (Agoseris aurantiaca) peeking out from the meadow grasses near Medicine Lake (Siskiyou County CA) it immediately caught my attention.
Also commonly called a mountain dandelion, orange agoseris is a perennial member of the sunflower family. It can be found in wet or dry mountain meadows throughout western North America and also in Quebec Canada. I am not certain why this native plant is disjunctly established in Quebec.
Orange agoseris has a basal rosette of grasslike or slightly lobed leaves arising from a fibrous tap root. There is not a true stem, but rather this agoseris has a hairy peduncle supporting a single burnt orange flower. The flower head is composed entirely of ray flowers surrounded by hairy bracts. Orange agoseris fruits are achenes (dry, single seeded, nut like) topped by white pappus hairs. When cut, the plant exudes a white, milky sap from the leaves and peduncle.
Like the dandelion, another member of the sunflower family, the leaves can be used as greens and eaten cooked or raw. Although I use dandelion greens in salads, orange agoseris seems to have more sap in its leaves than dandelions so I like agoseris greens less than dandelion greens. Early aboriginal groups did collect the sap or latex and chewed it for pleasure, an early chewing gum. The flowers are used to make beer and wine. Since my attempts at dandelion wine have not resulted in a stellar product, the orange agoseris flowers are safe.
I got a bit carried away with the pictures. . .