Perennials or subshrubs, 12-40(-60) cm. Leaf blades lanceolate, linear-oblong, or linear, 20-35(-45) × 1-10(-12) mm, lengths 3-8+ times widths, pinnately lobed, lobes 1-6, ultimate margins entire. Peduncles 3-7 cm. Outer phyllaries 5, connate 1/2-3/5 their lengths, ovate, 5-7 mm. Ray florets 8-13; corollas cream-white (sometimes purplish abaxially), laminae oblong-elliptic, 7-13 × 2.5-8 mm. Disc florets 25-50. Fruits 1.5-2.6 mm. 2n = 20, 40.
Flowering Mar-Oct. Open sites, grasslands, roadcuts, arid or desert scrublands; (200-)1000-2000(-2500) m; Ariz., Colo., Kans., N.Mex., Okla., Tex.; Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora).
FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969, MacDougall 1973, Allred and Ivey 2012
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Perennial suffrutescent herb or subshrub, 12-40 cm tall, from a stout woody root; lower stems often woody, the bark brownish or gray brown, fissured; upper stems strigose and cinereous, the hairs stiff, white, and appressed. Leaves: Opposite along the branchlets, tapering at the base into winged petioles; blades linear to oblong-oblanceolate, 1-4 cm long and 2-5 mm wide, strigose, with a midrib that appears prominent on the underside of the leaf and margins that are entire, slightly undulate, or occasionally with small pinnate lobes. Flowers: Flower heads showy radiate, cream colored with yellow centers, on peduncles 3-7 cm long, well surpassing the leaves; involucres hemispheric, 7-12 mm in diameter, the bracts (phyllaries) in two series, the outer series of 5 phyllaries united at the base, ovate, and the inner series of phyllaries each enclosing a ray floret; ray florets 8-13 per flower head, the laminae (ray petals) 7-13 mm long, cream-white, the undersides often veined with purple; disc florets 25-50 per flower head, yellow, 2 mm long. Fruits: Achenes 4-5 mm long, transversely rugulose with short irregular ridges; lacking a pappus. Ecology: Found on dry slopes, open sites, grasslands, along roadcuts, and in shrublands, often on limestone, from 2,000-5,000 ft (610-1524 m); flowers March-October. Distribution: AZ, NM, s CO, KA, OK, TX; south to c MEX. Notes: This attractive plant is distinguished by being a smaller much-branched perennial, often becoming woody at the base and forming mounds; with opposite, linear leaves covered with straight, appresed hairs; the flower heads showy,possessing 8-13 overlapping white rays that have purple veins and 2-3 uneven lobes at the tip, yellow disc florets, and outer phyllaries that are fused to each other and densely hairy. A combination of these characters will distinguish it from similar taxa, including Psilostrophe and Zinnia. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Melampodium comes from Melampus, a soothsayer of renown in Greek mythology; leucanthum comes from the Greek leukos, white and anthemon, flower. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2014, AHazelton 2017