Mystery wildflower! I'm stumped!

ebedgertJune 26, 2009

I know the answer to this must be easy, but I am completely stumped. This one isn't in any of my wildflower books for New York/Northeast.

While in the Finger Lakes National Forest, I spotted a 2-3 foot tall plant which, at first glance, I thought was just a Garlic Mustard. Some of the leaves looked very similar (sort of triangular/heartshaped, and toothed), and it was growing near a garlic mustard patch. But it wasn't that.

This one has got smallish (3/8") yellow flowers that look like small dandelion heads. The flowers come out of small roundish buds. (It's not Hawkweed - the leaves are totally different; it's also not Goat's Beard, as the flower buds are different.) The flowers live only a short time, possibly just a day, and then shrivel up and turn black.

The leaves are very interesting: when new (near the top of the stem), they are long and bladelike, but as they mature they grow wider and sort of heartshaped, and the most mature leaves have pinnate leaflets emerging below them on the leafstalk.

It's an innocuous looking plant but the fact that I can't find it in a wildflower guide is driving me crazy! What is it? any suggestions?

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Here is a not very good picture of the plant. Wish I'd taken a better one.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 10:54PM
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raydun(z5 NH)

Without a picture of the leaves your plant is a tough one to identify, I'm currently working on one with a similar description. Your best bet is to look through the flower pics at, a truely excellent resource. (Try the section titled Yellow Flowers - Alternate Leaves)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 8:55AM
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Thanks for the resource - I've bookmarked it. Unfortunately, my flower is not there either.

So far, I've ruled out Krigia, Sonchus, any kind of dandelion, false dandelion, hawkweed or goat's beard. It definitely didn't have basal leaves, for starters.

I saw two examples of this flower about 70 yards apart at a campground in the Finger Lakes National Forest (moist woodland) in central NY state. They were not numerous.

In habit and leaves, it was very reminiscent of garlic mustard - that was what made me do a double take. (see garlic mustard here: - but obviously with a flower like that, it's not in the mustard family.

It would seem to be in the aster family - and the flower sort of reminded me of a small, delicate yellow chicory bloom. I'm trying to find an aster genus that would have leaves like that, though.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 9:20AM
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You might try Connecticut Wildflower.

Here is a link that might be useful: yellow flowers

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 2:46PM
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It's likely I'll never find out what it was, so I'm just going to guess it's a less common form of hawkweed.

Canadian hawkweed has leaves that *somewhat* resemble what I saw (mine had broader established leaves however):

I did not know that some hawkweeds lose their basal leaves at flowering time, which might explain why I didn't see any basal leaves.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 4:56PM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

Hawkweeds have imbricate involucral bracts, unlike your flower.

I suspect the plant was Lapsana communis, or Nipplewort.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 4:30PM
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Indeed, it is nipplewort!

Thank you for the ID, lycopus. It was driving me crazy.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 8:51PM
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