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Field Cudweed

Filago arvensis

  • Name also: Field Cottonrose (USA)
  • Latin synonym: Logfia arvensis
  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
    (formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb.
  • Height: 5–30 cm (2–12 in.). Stem branchless–branching from central part, densely white-haired throughout.
  • Flower: Single flower-like 4–5 mm (0.16–0.2 in.) capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitula’s ray-florets lacking; disc florets pale yellow, tubular. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts quite blunt, hairy, branching like a star as cypsela ripens. Capitula borne in a long terminal raceme of 3–12 capitula.
  • Leaves: Alternate, basal leaves soon withering, stem leaves almost stalkless. Blade lanceolate, with entire margins, sharp-pointed, woolly.
  • Fruit: Yellowish brown achene, tip sometimes with white unbranched hairs.
  • Habitat: Meadows, roadsides, railway embankments, road cuttings, sand pits, wasteland, sandy areas.
  • Flowering time: July–September.

This annual appears erratically and in random places, and it rarely grows in the same place two years running. Field cudweed’s natural habitat is sun-baked, almost bare meadows. Nowadays most grow in man-made environments on waste ground and the sandy margins of roads. In Finland it grows as far north as central Finland, but there are large gaps in its territory. In Savo-Karelia it is still common further north than in the west. In eastern Finland there have been a lot of open slash-and-burn areas and an abundance of half-bare patches of meadow, and the species has made itself at home there.

In Finland field cudweed is the only member of its genus that can be found regularly, although a few other species grow casually. It is a good example of long-lasting controversy between researchers who represent conflicting schools of thought regarding classifying and identifying species in taxonomic groups. Cudweeds have been divided into several small species based on small differences. The group was the baby of a certain French botanist during the Age of Enlightenment and he developed a large number of anagrams and word-plays as names for the species: Filago, Gifola, Ifloga, Logfia. Nowadays the prevailing view in research on the relationships between different members of the groups is that they have quite loose borders.

Other species from the same family

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