Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Strictly a plant of the western third of our state, large-flowered goldenweed grows on dry hills and slopes from Saskatchewan to Arizona, at elevations up to 8,000 ft.
Large-flowered goldenweed is about 6 inches tall, a nearly stemless perennial from a thick, woody rootcrown and taproot. The toothless leaves are 2 to 3 inches long, and only about 1/8 inch wide. The silvery remnants of previous years' leaves crowd the base of the plants. Bright yellow flower heads are nearly an inch wide, and are borne on thin stalks about 5 inches long. Fruits are small achenes with numerous white bristles.
These tough plants of bare soils seem little effected by livestock grazing. There are no known economic uses for the plant, but the roots of some members of this genus were used for tea by the native Americans.
The goldenweeds are members of the large sunflower family (Asteraceae), which has over 15,000 species worldwide, and about 200 species in North Dakota. The family is the largest in most temperate regions. Flower heads are usually comprised of many densely-packed flowers, as in the common sunflower. Aster means "star" in Greek, concerning the radiate arrangement of the flowers in the heads. The generic name for goldenweed was derived from the Greek haplous, "single," and pappos, "pappus." A pappus is a ring of bristles or scales on the seeds (achenes) of members of the aster family. The specific epithet armerioides means "like Armeria" (another genus of plants in another family) in botanical Latin. Large-flowered goldenweed was discovered by the famous English-American naturalist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859).