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Years ago, hiking in the Malibu CA region, I saw this very unusual inflorescence that looked like a dandelion but isn't like any that I've ever seen before or since. The yellow flowers in the corner of the picture might give a hint as to what plant this is from--but it's also possible that those are from a different plant. If anyone can help identify this plant, I'd really appreciate it!

enter image description here


OOOOOH! Could it be Achyrachaena mollis ("blow wives")?

Or maybe it is Uropappus lindleyi, aka "silver puffs". I think this is a better match (an image search for A. mollis shows very different seed head morphology).

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    Any foliage with this? Seeing the leaves would be useful – Bamboo Jun 28 '16 at 22:08
  • @Bamboo Sadly, no: this is the only photograph I have, and I was lucky to find it because I thought it had been lost until recently. – heropup Jun 28 '16 at 22:31
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    It could be related to globe gilia or Gilia capitata or Gilia congesta ... – Ben Welborn Jun 28 '16 at 22:33
  • @BenWelborn Thanks to your comment, I think I managed to find a good visual match! – heropup Jun 28 '16 at 22:44
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    This is a tough one, and lots of fun! heropup, are you still thinking Uropappus? That's what it looks like to me! – Sue Jun 29 '16 at 0:00
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Let me just preface this by saying that I remember when I took that photo (which, based on the time stamp, was back in April 2013), I had searched on the internet with no success: various searches by image failed, and searches using keywords like "dandelion" or "star dandelion" were hopelessly futile.

And just by sheer luck, Ben Welborn's comment suggesting Gilia sp. prompted an image search under that genus, which so happened to return a few results for Uropappus, which I think was misidentified as A. mollis, and eventually led to what I believe is the definitive genus, Uropappus, probably Uropappus lindleyi. The resemblance in the seed head, at least, is unmistakable:

enter image description here

(Source: http://nativeplants.csuci.edu/uropappus-lindleyi.htm)

Again, I wish to thank Ben, and everyone who provided feedback, for helping in identifying this distinctive plant!

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