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Enceliopsis nudicaulis

Enceliopsis nudicaulis

The photographs on this page of Enceliopsis nudicaulis in flower are
courtesy of John Crosby, "The American Southwest".

Enceliopsis nudicaulis  (Nakedstem Sunray).
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring and summer.
Above: Near Sixshooter Peaks, Canyon Lands, Utah, November 15, 2021.
Left: Courtesy of John Crosby, "The American Southwest.

This handsome herb is most often found in hot sandy shrublands. Its sage green crowned growth habit makes it stand out from other plant life in its area.

As the photograph above shows, the tuft of basal leaves is dense and is comprised of several year's of growth. Leaves and flower stems persist long after the flowers have faded.

Asa Gray first named this species Encelia nudicaulis and he described it for science in 1873 from collections made by M.F. Bishop in Utah in 1872. Aven Nelson realized that the species was different enough from Encelia that it should have its own genus, which Nelson created. Nelson moved this species to the new genus, Enceliopsis, in 1909.

"Opsis" is Greek for "similar to", "resembles". Aven Nelson was indicating that Enceliopsis is similar to Encelia.

Some sources, including Arthur Cronquist of Intermountain Flora and Philip Munz, expert California botanist, indicate that the genus names Encelia and Enceliopsis honor Christopher Encel, a 16th century botanist who published a book on oak galls in 1577. Other very reputable sources indicate that the person honored is Christoph Entzelt, Lutheran clergyman who wrote a book about medicinal uses of plants in 1551. I would stay with the expert views of Cronquist and Munz.  It also is most plausible that the Latin version of the name "Encel" would produce "Encelia".  (Click for biographical information about Encel.)

Enceliopsis nudicaulis

Enceliopsis nudicaulis  (Nakedstem Sunray).
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring and summer.
Courtesy of John Crosby, "The American Southwest.

Phyllaries (and leaves) appear to be sage green gray because they are covered with short, fine, silvery hairs. The hairs impart a white glow to the leaves, especially evident if you look at edges or if you use a 10x hand lens.

Enceliopsis nudicaulis

Enceliopsis nudicaulis  (Nakedstem Sunray).
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring and summer.
Courtesy of John Crosby, "The American Southwest.

At 3 1/2 to 8 1/2 centimeters in diameter, flowers are quite large for desert blooms.

Ray flowers are pistillate but sterile; disk flowers are bisexual and fertile. This sterility/fertility arrangement is common in Asteraceae but in some genera all flowers are fertile or some have sterile staminate flowers.

Enceliopsis nudicaulis

Enceliopsis nudicaulis  (Nakedstem Sunray).
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring and summer.
Near Sixshooter Peaks, Canyon Lands, Utah, November 15, 2021.

Hairs impart a white glow to the edge of the leaves.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Enceliopsis nudicaulis

Range map for Enceliopsis nudicaulis