Annuals, 3-12(-16+) cm. Stems decumbent to erect; internodes (1-)3-12(-18+) mm, strigose. Leaves mostly cauline, blades spatulate to narrowly oblanceolate, 8-12(-25+) × 1-3(-5+) mm, not fleshy, faces ± strigillose. Heads at tips of stems. Involucres ± hemispheric, 8-12(-16) mm diam. Phyllaries 26-30+ in 3+ series, the longer ± lance-ovate to oblanceolate, 5-6+ mm (l/w = 2.5-5), apices acute, abaxial faces strigillose to glabrate. Ray florets 12-30+; corollas white or pinkish to lavender adaxially, laminae 5-8+ mm, glabrous abaxially. Disc florets 60-120+; corollas 2.5-3.5+ mm. Cypselae 2-3 mm, faces hairy, hair tips glochidiform; pappi persistent; on ray cypselae ± 10 lanceolate scales 0.2-0.5(-1) mm; on disc cypselae 20+ subulate scales 1-2.5(-4) mm. 2n = 18.
Flowering Apr-Jun(-Oct). Sandy soils, alkaline flats, red clays; 1200-2100 m; Ariz., Colo., N.Mex., Tex., Utah, Wyo.
The type of Townsendia annua may prove to be conspecific with that of T. strigosa.
FNA 2006, McDougall 1973, Heil et al. 2013, Alllred and Ivey 2013
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual herbs, to 12 cm tall or more; stems branched at the base, erect, prostrate, or decumbent, strigose. Leaves: Mostly alternate and crowded along the stems, with a few early-deciduous basal leaves; blades oblanceolate to spatulate, to 3 cm long, with entire margins and strigose to sparsely appressed-pubescent surfaces. Flowers: Flower heads radiate, white to pinkish with yellow centers, solitary on branch tips; involucres hemispheric, 8-16 mm wide and 4-8 mm high, the bracts (phyllaries) in 3-4 graduated series, herbaceous with thin papery (scarious), irregularly toothed margins; ray florets 12-30 per flower head, the laminae (ray petals) 6-12 mm long, white, to pink or light lavender; disc florets yellow, sometimes pink or purple-tipped. Fruits: Achenes 2-3 mm long, hairy; disc achenes topped with a pappus of subulate scales, 1-4 mm long; ray achenes topped with a pappus of lanceolate scales, 0.5 mm long. Ecology: Found on sandy soils, alkaline flats, and red clays, from 4,000-7,000 ft (1219-2134 m); flowers April-June. Distribution: AZ, CO, NM, TX, UT, WY Notes: This genus is very close to both Aster and Erigeron, but the pappus is not composed of capillary bristles, but rather several to many rigid bristles or short scales. It is also set apart from Erigeron by the phyllaries, which are in Erigeron are all equal or subequal in length, but in Townsendia are graduated lengths (i.e. outer phyllaries are shorter). T. annua is distinguished from other species of Townsendia by being annual and caulescent (having obvious stems). Look for the daisy-like flowers, and the leafy, usually somewhat prostrate or spreading stems. The leaves are spatulate, meaning that they have rounded tips that are wider than the leaf base. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus have uses. Etymology: Townsendia is named for David Townsend (1787-1858) an American amateur botanist; annua means annual. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher 2011, AHazelton 2017