Common hareleaf (Lagophylla ramossissma) is a native annual found in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah. Its habitat encompasses grasslands, scrub openings, woodlands and forests, particularly dry areas. The yellow flowers, and plant itself, are often difficult to see because they open in the evening and close in the morning.
This member of the Asteraceae Family (Sunflower) has a spindly, erect, branched stem.
Common hareleaf leaves are alternate, narrowly lance shaped, entire and have no petioles (stalks). The lower leaves are longer and fall off early in the season, while the upper leaves are smaller with woolly, glandular surfaces.
The inflorescences are small, loose, short-stalked clusters at the tips of branches which arise from the axils of upper leaves. The flower head is composed of 5 short ray flowers with lobed tips and 6 disk flowers each enveloped by a chaff scale. There are five glandular involucre bracts (phyllaries). The bracts are soft and hairy resembling rabbit ears.
Common hareleaf fruits are small, black, shiny achenes without the pappus (feathery top) common in so many members of the Sunflower Family.
Other colloquial names for L ramossissma are slender rabbitleaf and branched lagophylla. The genus name, Lagophylla, refers to the silky pubescence of the upper leaves and derives from the Greek “lagos” (hare) and “phyllon” (leaf). The species name, ramossissma, means “very branched” in Latin.
These common hareleaf specimens were growing in June along Lower Hat Creek Trail in Shasta County CA.