Rayless shaggy fleabane (Erigeron aphanactis) is a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). It is unusual because even though it’s flower head has both ray and disk flowers, the ray flowers have no rays. It is not ray-flower less, it is rayless.
This native perennial is drought tolerant and can be found amid sagebrush and juniper scrub between 4,000 and 9,500 feet in the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau.
Rayless shaggy fleabane arises from a taproot and has a short, clumping aspect. The foliage and stems are covered in short grey hairs and resin glands. The narrow, elongated leaves are mostly basal. The few cauline (stem) leaves are gradually reduced distally.
The stems are topped by an inflorescence consisting of one to four bright yellow, button-like flower heads. Rayless shaggy fleabane fruits are achenes topped by pappi.
Other common names for E aphanactis include rayless fleabane and Basin rayless daisy. Both the genus and species designations come from Greek. Erigeron means “old man in the spring” (eri/early and geron/old man) referring to the fluffy white seedheads and early flowering and early fruiting of many Erigeron species. Aphanactis (aphanes/inconspicuous and actis/ray) means “head with small ray flowers”.
In May these rayless shaggy fleabane plants were photographed at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Nevada.