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Montana Field Guides

False Hairy Goldenaster - Heterotheca villosa var. ballardii

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Likely Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5T5?
State Rank: SNA
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status


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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Hetertheca villosa var. ballardii is documented in north-central Montana from University of Kansas herbarium specimens annotated by John Semple. Semple stated that the plant is rare and conjectured that Montana specimens are probably introduced (Semple in Flora of North America 2006). Surveys that bring forth information on its current occurrence and distribution in Montana is needed. Until there is more information a conservation status rank is not applicable (SNA) because this variety is thought to be an exotic (non-native) in Montana which is not a suitable target for conservation activities.
General Description
PLANTS: Perennial plants that grow from a taproot. Stems decumbent to erect, woody at the base, and 10–50 cm tall. Hairs are strigose (stiff, straight, sharp, and appressed) to hirsute (long and stiff), often stipitate-glandular (stalked glands). Source: Lesica et al. 2012

LEAVES: Alternately arranged on the stem (cauline). Those on the lower stem petiolate and upwards becoming sessile. Leaf blades are oblanceolate to obovate in shape with smooth (entire) margins, and 1–5 cm long. Source: Lesica et al. 2012

INFLORESCENCE: Yellow flowers in heads arranged in leafy-bracted corymbiform arrays. Flower stems (peduncles) are 0–3 cm long. Involucre is narrowly campanulate, 5–10 mm high. Involucral bracts (phyllaries) are imbricate forming 4 to 5 rows; bracts are green, narrowly lanceolate, white-margined, and glabrate to strigose, though sometimes glandular. The receptacle is nearly flat. Heads composed of yellow ray and disk florets (radiate). Fruit is a Cypsela, a specific type of achene. Source: Lesica et al. 2012

VARIETY ballardii: Stems and leaves with short hairs and lacking glands. Leaves have rounded leaf bases. Flower Heads are relatively large and subtended by narrow leaf-like bracts. Source: (Semple in Flora of North America [FNA] 2006)

Heterotheca is derived from the Greek words heteros meaning 'different' and thece meaning 'container' which refers to ray and disk cypsela being morphological different in some species (dimorphic cypsela) (Semple in FNA 2006).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Heterotheca villosa has 5 varieties in Montana (Semple in FNA 2006), of which 3 varieties are recognized in the Manual of Montana Vascular Plants (Lesica et al. 2012):

Variety ballardii
Flora of North America
*Overall: Plants have leaves with round bases, short hairs, and not glandular and flower heads that are large, many-rayed and often subtended by one or more large, narrow, leaf-like peduncle bracts.
*Stems: 22-50 cm tall and usually abundantly long-hirsute.
*Flower Heads: Broadly campanulate involucre. Showy ray florets, (12)17-20 in number, (8.5)9-14.5 mm in length.
*Distribution: Northeastern Great Plains.

Variety villosa
Flora of North America
*Stems: 16-39 cm tall and moderately to densely strigose and sparsely to abundantly long-hirsute.
*Upper Leaves are moderately strigose (20-60 hairs per square millimeter) and sparsely to moderately stipitate-glandular.
*Flower Heads: Usually lack bracts on the peduncles.
*Distribution: Great Plains and scattered in hills and mountains.
Manual of Montana Vascular Plants
*Stems and upper leaves densely hirsute and lacking glands.
*Flower heads on longer peduncles and subtended by small bracts.
*Leaves are more oblanceolate in shape.
*Found mostly on the plains in Montana.

Variety foliosa
Flora of North America
*Stems: 5-22 cm tall and usually abundantly long-hirsute.
*Flower Heads: Narrowly campanulate involucre. Less showy ray florets, (7)13-22 in number, 8-11.4(12.4) mm in length.
*Distribution: Mountains and western prairies.
Manual of Montana Vascular Plants
*Stems and upper leaves densely hirsute and lacking glands.
*Flower heads on very short peduncles and immediately subtended by leaves.
*Leaves are oblong to obovate in shape.
*Found mostly along streams on the plains in Montana.

Variety minor
Flora of North America
*Overall: Upper leaves are narrowly to broadly oblanceolate (sometimes oblong or ovate in the mountains), moderately glandular (4-20 glands per square millimeter), and hispido-strigose (10-50 hairs per square millimeter). Upper leaf bases are cuneate or attenuate, but rarely rounded.
*Stems: decumbent to ascending-erect, (9)16-33(48) cm tall. Branches usually not very long.
*Upper Leaves: Margins flat to undulate with obtuse to acute leaf tips, and sparse to moderate hairs.
*Flower Heads: Arrays are compact. Involucral bracts are moderately strigose (hairs to 1 mm long) and usually stipitate-glandular.
*Distribution: Throughout most of the range described for the species.
Manual of Montana Vascular Plants
*Stems sparsely to densely stipitate-glandular, but not densely hirsute.
*Found in plains, valleys, to rarely the subalpine in Montana.
*Montana's most common form.

Variety depressa
Flora of North America
*Overall: Small stature, small flower heads, and linear-oblanceolate leaves with many hairs and usually some glands.
*Stems: 5-22 cm tall and sparsely long-hirsute.
*Upper Leaves are densely strigose (84-140 hairs per square millimeter) and sparsely to moderately stipitate-glandular.
*Distribution: Yellowstone National Park and adjacent areas.

Range Comments
From Alberta to Ontario, Canada south to Colorado and east to Nebraska and Minnesota, but apparently not in Wyoming (Semple in FNA 2006).

Dry sandy clay, thin silty loam, sandy loam, gravel, and rocky, granitic soils within prairies, fields, roadsides, railroad rights-of-ways from 200 to 2,300 meters in elevation (Semple in FNA 2006).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2006. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 20. Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 7: Asteraceae, part 2. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxii + 666 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Semple, J.C. 1996. A Revision of Heterotheca Sect. Phyllotheca (Nutt.) Harms (Compositae: Astereae): the Prairie and Montane Goldenasters of North America. University of Waterloo Biology Series 37: 1-164.
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Citation for data on this website:
False Hairy Goldenaster — Heterotheca villosa var. ballardii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from