Monday, October 2, 2023

Camphor daisy - Rayjacksonia phyllocephala

Camphor daisy (Rayjacksonia phyllocephala) occurs in coastal habitats in scattered locations along the west coast of Florida.  There are vouchered specimens from Santa Rosa County in the extreme western Panhandle, a cluster of counties in west-central Florida, and records from the Florida Keys.  In this range, it is most common on beach dunes, salt flats, and disturbed open uplands.  Part of the anomaly in its seemingly disjunct range in Florida might be based on the fact that it shares many similarities to the ubiquitous camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris).  Camphor daisy also occurs along the western Gulfcoast from Mississippi to the tip of Texas and northern Mexico.  In the more-tropical parts of its range it grows more like a perennial, but elsewhere it is considered to be an annual.

Like camphorweed, this wildflower produces a large number of yellow daisy-like flowers and smells strongly of camphor when the foliage is crushed,  The major distinguishing characters are the many bristly hairs along the stems and the toothed leaf margins.  Camphor daisy reaches a mature height of 2-4 feet and has a bushy aspect.  The 2-inch long leaves alternate along the stems and have very widely spaced shallow teeth along the margins.  They are somewhat linear in shape.

Flowering occurs throughout the year in the warmer parts of its range and from summer to late fall elsewhere.  The bright yellow daisy-like flowers are about 1-inch wide.  Like most, if not all, asters they attract the attention of a great many pollinators.

Camphor daisy has never been offered for sale commercially by any nursery in Florida affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, nor by any nursery that I'm aware of outside of Florida. It is easy to propagate from ripe seed, however.  Though a bit weedy in aspect, it would make a good addition to a coastal pollinator garden.

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