just ADYC!

When it comes to native wildflowers, it can get pretty complicated. Some people get all perplexed and ask the question: How can you identify one Black-eyed-susie from another? ….or one Goldenrod from another? But most people ask the question “Why would anyone want to…?, and anyway, Who cares?”

Many years ago I was on a native plant field trip with a group, including noted plantsman, Tom Dodd III. He shared the acronym ADYC with us which translates roughly to: another damned yellow composite. We all kind of giggled a bit at the time, and the conversation went on. But that acronym stayed with me, and I think of Tom’s comment often when out in the field.

I will leave it to the botanists and taxonomists to describe the technical stuff about the composite family of flowers. That’s not my gig.

Webster’s defines a composite as: of or relating to a very large family of herbs, shrubs, and trees often considered to be the most highly evolved plants and characterized by florets arranged in dense heads that resemble single flowers.

There are 20,000 species of composites world-wide. One tribe, the Asters, has what are called “disc and ray” flowers. A good example of an aster flower that most folks know of or can relate to, is the daisy. It has a “disc” in the center and a number of “rays” encircling the disc. In the Atlas of Flora of Louisiana, there’s a list of 92 species and subspecies just in the Aster genus. Like I said before, it can get a little complicated.

When I started with my interest in native wildflowers, it was a curiosity: a challenge. And then it became a Quixotic quest (okay, okay, it was an obsession!). I was taken, at the time, by the shear number of plants out there, in the wild.  It still amazes me, really. I am still finding plants I don’t know, or have long since forgotten.

In an earlier post, I made a botanical boo boo (a botany blunder!). I’ll explain.

In my August 9th post, I stated that the purple heads of a plant in a photo I provided was one of One Flower Honeycomb Head (Balwinia uniflora). When I ducked in to Lake Ramsey Preserve south of Folsom last week on my way home from a client’s house, I immediately realized that I had made this mistake.

There before me was mass of the purpley-headed Helianthus radula (Rayless Sunflower), in peak bloom and next to it was a sweet stand of One Flower Honeycomb Head (Baldwinia uniflora), right next to it, very different and distinctive: obviously two very different plants.

I am sure I had been pointed these two out by people who knew, at least a couple of times over the years, but unless you have a memory like an elephant like a good botanist needs, or you’re in the woods all the time, its hard to keep up with them all.

Anyway, I’m “fessing -up” to my ineptness.

And I include some pics I took of the H. Radula.

Its pretty hard, really to get them confused because they are so distinctly different. If you know H. radula’s leaf you can’t go wrong, because there’s nothing like it. Very unique!  I’ll probably forget all of this by next year this time when I see them again. I am still learning. Here’s some pics of Rayless Sunflower.


Radical sunflower @ road-edge at the Lake Ramsey Preserve



Radically distinctive leaves


a handful of Rayless heads


an internet-snatched photo of ole’ Ray