Nuttall’s Rayless Goldenrod, Beach Botany

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Nuttall’s Rayless Goldenrod, Bigelowia nuttallii, is  a rare and endangered Aster species  that is found in only two counties in the state. Washington County in the Panhandle has one population on a protected preserve and Pinellas County has one in unprotected private lands. Nuttallii is a perennial herb with a few erect stems about 2-feet high. The erect stems grow from the center of a basal rosette with long and narrow basal leaves 2.5” to 5.2.” Stem leaves are alternate. Leaf shape is narrow and linear 2” to 3” long and 1/8” wide. Leaves get smaller growing up the stems. Margins are entire.

Flowers grow in the upper portion of the plant where the stems branch out.  Flat top clusters of flower heads occur at the tip of the stems. Inflorescence is terminal. Each flowerhead has 3 to 5 yellow disk florets and no ray florets. Blooming takes place in the fall and winter. Disk florets produce windblown seeds.

The few populations of nutallii are facing the threat of extinction  due to losing its scrub habitats to commercial activities. There is only one other species in the Genus Bigelowia, B. nudata which is also threatened  The specimen in the picture was taken in the Bok Tower Gardens. Nutalla was an  English botanist, 1786 – 1839 who studied plants in Florida.