A bumpy highway of rows of flowers that bloom in a unique way.

Blackroot is a strange name for a wildflower.  It gets that name because its root system is very dark. Blackroot, Pterocaulon pycnostachyum, is a deciduous perennial that dies back in winter and grows again in spring.  It is found in sandhills, flatwoods, and hammocks in almost every county in the State. The plant grows from a rhizome deep in well drained soils.  A single erect stem with square edges grows through the center of a ground hugging basal rosette to a height of 1 to 2 feet.

Leaves are lanceolate to elliptic in shape 1 to 6 inches in length dark green on top and white underneath.  Leaf margins are slightly toothed.  Leaves are in an alternate order on the stem. The entire plant is covered in silvery hairs giving Blackroot a grayish color.

Blackroot is a member of the Aster family, however, it does not appear like other Asters with a sunflower composed of ray and disk florets.   Instead, Blackroot has a terminal spike with at least 100 tiny disk florets at the end of the stem. Not at all showy.  Blooming time is May through July.

In the U.S. this species is found in the SE States.  The specimen in the picture was found in a small population in a field alongside Daniels Parkway.


Dorothy Rodwell