Shinnersoseris rostrata (Annual Skeletonweed)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:annual
  • State Threatened
Habitat:sun; dry prairie, sand dunes and blowouts
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:4 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Branching clusters of stalked flowers. Flowers are about 1/3 to ½ inch across with 6 to 11 petals that are mostly ascending and do not spread fully open. Petal color is lavender to light pink, with white tips. At the base of a petal is a slender, dark purple column with a protruding style that has a split tip.

[photo of bracts and cluster branching] Bracts are hairless, light green, often with a dot of purple at the tip, and in 2 layers, the outer short and of unequal lengths, the inner long and narrow, forming a column ½ to 2/3 inch long.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of lower stem leaves] Leaves are linear, up to 6 inches long and ¼ inch wide, toothless, hairless, stalkless, and spreading to drooping, the uppermost leaves reduced to bracts. Attachment is typically opposite in the lower plant and alternate above, the lower leaves withering away by flowering time, leaves farther up withering away later. Stems are green, hairless, and much branched.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender, dry, brown seed with a tuft of white hairs to carry it off in the wind.


Formerly known as Lygodesmia rostrata, Annual Skeletonweed is at the eastern fringe of its range in Minnesota. According to the DNR, in MN it's restricted to unstable sand dunes and blowouts where there is little competition, and movement of the sand aids seed stratification and germination. It was listed as a Threatened species in 1984. The only natural populations are believed to be in Polk and Norman counties, with other locations likely planted in restoration projects. It resembles the related and more common Skeletonweed (Lygodesmia juncea), which is also found on dry, sandy prairie, but has larger, (usually) 5-petaled flowers and much smaller leaves that persist through fruiting.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Norman County.


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