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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

Northern Bahia (Picradeniopsis oppositifolia)

Collected only south and west of the Missouri River in North Dakota, Northern Bahia also occurs from southern Saskatchewan to northern Mexico, mostly in the High Plains east of the Rocky Mountains at elevations up to 7,500 feet. The plant was formerly placed in the genus Bahia.

Northern Bahia is a perennial herb or subshrub about six inches tall. One to eight stems arise from a thin taproot. Fine hairs and glands on leaves and stems make plants appear gray-olive green. Leaves are opposite and parted three times into narrow segments. Each much-branched stem bears 5-20 flower heads about three eighths of an inch wide. Each head bears four to seven ray flowers that are paler yellow than the 30-40 disc flowers. Seeds (achenes) are only about an eighth of an inch long and have no long bristles to carry them in the wind.

Look for Northern Bahia from June to September on dry clays and gravels in native pastures. A few more plants seem to occur where grazing is heavy or moderate, except perhaps during extreme drought. The plant also readily invades roadgrades or other disturbed areas. I could find no mention of economic uses for the plant.

These plants are members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Aster means "star" in Greek, in reference to the radiate arrangement of the flowers in the heads. The family contains over 15,000 species, more than any other family in North Dakota as well as nearly every country in the North Temperate Zone.

The generic name Picradeniopsis means "looks like Picradenia" (another plant in the family) and is derived from the Greek picros "sharp," and adenia, "gland," likely in reference to the achenes. The specific name oppositifolia means "opposite-leaved" in botanical Latin.

Northern Bahia was first described for science in 1818 by the eminent English botanist-naturalist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859). He visited the Mandan villages along the Missouri River in 1810-1811.

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