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Evening Walks with Telegraph Weed

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Through our new virtual programming series, Nature in your Neighborhood, we challenged volunteers to go out into their neighborhoods or backyards to see what plants sparked their interest. Whether plants are native or non native, we can all appreciate a connection to nature and the curiosity that it can spark!

By: Rakhima Raissova

Heterotheca grandiflora or commonly Telegraph Weed

One of the plants I have discovered in my neighborhood during my evening walk were these cute bushes with small yellow flowers. Having no idea of this plant, I took a quick photo of it. According to, a wonderful site for plant information, it's a Heterotheca grandiflora, a dicot, is an annual or perennial herb that is native to California and and is endemic (limited) to California.

It's scientific name is Heterotheca grandiflora.

It's common name is Telegraph Weed.

Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower) Genus: Heterotheca Synonyms: Heterotheca floribunda Benth.

Size: up to 2 meters.

Habitat: sand, disturbed soils.

Blooms: January to December.

Fire response: Germinate from Seed.

Wildlife Supported: Insects are attracted to the flowers, especially bees and butterflies.

Common uses: bee gardens.

Heterotheca grandiflora is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family known by the common name silk-grass goldenaster or telegraphweed. It is native to the southwestern United States (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona) and northwestern Mexico (Baja California). Utah and Nevada are recent hosts to this plant after introduction there. Not surprisingly, after it found its way into Australia and New Zealand, it is now considered invasive as it spreads its way into new territory. It can be found in other areas as an introduced species, such as Hawaii. It is often a roadside weed even where it is native.

Name Origin: Heterothe'ca: derived from the Greek heteros, "different," and theke, "ovary," from the unlike achenes of the ray and disk florets. The genus Heterotheca was published in 1817 by Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassini. (ref. genus Heterotheca).

Heterotheca grandiflora is a tall, bristly, glandular plant exceeding a meter (40 inches) in height and densely foliated in hairy to spiny toothed or lobed leaves. Leaves are smaller and more widely spaced toward the top of the stem, which is occupied by an inflorescence of bright yellow daisy-like flower heads. The disc and ray florets drop away to leave a spherical head of achenes, each with a long white pappus.


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