Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Hymenopappus filifolius, Fineleaf Hymenopappus

Fineleaf Hymenopappus is a native perennial with medium size showy yellow or lemon colored flowers that bloom from April to September. Hymenopappus filifolius Fineleaf Hymenopappus has 13 varieties ranging from smooth to heavily pubescent (tomentose) herbage. The plant in the photo has foliage with dense white soft hairs; note the whitish to yellowish wholly pubescence covering the phyllaries. Hymenopappus filifolius Fineleaf Hymenopappus; post bloom fruit is an achene as shown in the photograph. Hymenopappus filifolius Fineleaf Hymenopappus has light green basal leaves, gray-green in color and about 2 inches, note the margins are pinnately dissected twice with “threadlike” or linear lobes; thus the common name “Fineleaf Hymenopappus”. Hymenopappus filifolius Fineleaf Hymenopappus is a native perennial with some varieties reaching up to 3 feet or more. Plants grow in various habitats from upper desert communities to pines and junipers in dry rocky slopes and mesas and limestone soils. Hymenopappus filifolius
Scientific Name: Hymenopappus filifolius
Common Name: Fineleaf Hymenopappus

Also Called: Columbia Cutleaf, Cutleaf, Fine-leaf Woollywhite

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Hymenopappus filifolius var, pauciflorus; Hymenopappus filifolius. var. megacephalus; Hymenopappus filifolius var. lugens; Hymenopappus filifolius nanus, and Hymenopappus filifolius var. cinereus)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 3 feet (91 cm) or more

Growth Form: Forb/herb or subshrub; several stems from a woody base (caudex); plants upright, whitish (tomentose) near base.

Leaves: Light green; leaves mostly the woody caudex around base; leaves thin, pinnate dissected with linear thread-like lobes; leaves also whitish (tomentose).

Flower Color: Yellow, lemon yellow or white; flower heads on long flowering stems with disk florets only; bracts surrounding flower heads (phyllaries) whitish or yellowish; fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: April to September

Elevation: 2,500 7,500 feet (762-3,048 m)

Habitat Preferences: Various habitats from upper desert communities to pines and junipers in dry rocky slopes, mesas and limestone soils.

Recorded Range: Fineleaf Hymenopappus is found in the western and central United States, Saskatchewan and Alberta Canada, south to northern Mexico (Chihuahua) and Baja California.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Hymenopappus filifolius.

North America species range map for Fineleaf, Hymenopappus filifolius:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Fineleaf, Hymenopappus filifolius: Click image for full size map.
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

Genus Information: In North America there are 11 species and 11 accepted taxa overall for Hymenopappus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 13 accepted species names and a further 24 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Hymenopappus.

The genus Hymenopappus was published by Charles Louis L’Héritierin 1788.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 4 species of Hymenopappus, California, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species, New Mexico has 6 species and Texas has 7 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 13 named varieties in Hymenopappus filifolius;
v. cinereus”, “v. eriopodus”, “v. filifolius”, “v. idahoensis”, “v. lugens”, “v. luteus”, “v. megacephalus”, “v. nanus”, “v. nudipes”, “v. parvulus”, “v. pauciflorus”, “v. polycephalus”, “v. tomentosus”.

Comments: Because of numerous varieties there is much (often subtle) variation in plants from one location to another and they may be difficult to identify individually to specific variety. However, most varieties seem to have enough similar characteristics that they can easily be easily recognizable to species.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Fineleaf Hymenopapus, Hymenopappus filifolius, flowers, seeds and foliage provide food and cover value to birds, rodents and insects.

Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
The brightly colored yellow flowers of Hymenopappus filifolius attract butterflies, moths and other insects in search of food.

The genus “Hymenopappus” (Hymenopap'pus:) is from the Greek hymen, “membrane,” and pappos, “pappus,” because of the hyaline (colorless or translucent) paleae (chafflike scales on the receptacles of many species of Asteraceae).

The genus Hymenopappus was published by Charles Louis L’Héritierin 1788.

The species epithet filifolius (filifo'lius:) refers to the thread-like foliage.

Several ethno-botanical uses have been identified for Fineleaf Hymenopappus including uses as food, cough medicine, panacea, gastrointestinal aid and more.

  • Hopi Food, Bread & Cake and Food, Beverage; Leaves boiled, rubbed with cornmeal and baked into bread and Used to make tea and coffee.
  • Hopi Drug, Toothache Remedy and Drug, Emetic and Unspecified; Root chewed for decaying teeth and Compound containing plant used as a ceremonial emetic and Used for dye.
  • Keres, Western Other, Unspecified; Taxon known and named but no use was specified.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Cough Medicine and Ramah Drug, Panacea; Decoction of plant taken for cough and Cold infusion of root used as 'life medicine.'Hopi Drug, Ceremonial Medicine Compound containing plant used as a ceremonial emetic.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Dermatological Aid; Infusion or decoction of plant taken and used as a lotion for arrow or bullet wound.
  • Navajo Drug, Blood Medicine; Decoction of whole plant taken for blood poisoning.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Dermatological Aid and Kayenta Drug, Other; Poultice of plant applied to sores caused by bird infections and Plant used for illness caused by lunar eclipse.
  • Zuni Drug, Dermatological Aid and Food, Candy; Poultice of chewed root with lard applied to swellings and Root used as chewing gum.

  • See ethno-botanical uses for this species at the on-line site Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Completed: 10/8/2014; updated 08/12/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Hymenopappus filifolius var, pauciflorus
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 08/12/2020)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 08/12/2020)
    John L. Strother, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae, Hymenopappus, 4. Hymenopappus filifolius Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 317. 1833. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico.16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    David J. Keil 2012, Hymenopappus filifolius, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=3584, accessed on August 12, 2020.
    FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973, Heil et al 2013; Editor; L.Crumbacher 2011, A.Hazelton 2017 from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; (accessed 08/12/2020).
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Hymenopappus filifolius', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 June 2018, 06:53 UTC, [accessed 12 August 2020]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology: Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 08/12/2020)