Friday, March 19, 2010

Rafinesquia neomexicana

Chicory - Rafinesquia neomexicana

One among the nearly 170 species of Asteraceae found in the Mojave desert, chicory is part of the dandelion group, having a resinous sap, no disk flowers, and plumose pappus. This annual plant is often found tangled in the branches of other, perennial plants, which it uses as a support structure in a inquilisticly commensal relationship. This relationship is not obligatory, and chicory can grow independent of a host plant.

The flowers appear in February, and typically persist until May. I often observed small beetles on the flowers, which could be the pollinator, or an opportunist feeding on the flower parts. The seeds are, like most Asteraceae, probably wind dispersed.

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