Lygodesmia juncea (Skeletonweed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Rush Skeleton-plant
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry prairies, fields. plains, roadsides, railroads
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:6 to 18 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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flower] Single flowers at the tips of branching stems. Flowers are pink to lavender (rarely white), ½ to ¾ inch across with (usually) 5 petals that have several small teeth at the tip. At the base of a petal is a column with short stamens and a long protruding style with a divided, arching tip.

[photo of bracts] The bracts are green, hairless, and in 2 layers, the outer short and unequal in length, the inner long and narrow, forming a column up to ¾ inch long.

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

[photo of leaves] Lower leaves are stiff, linear, ½ to 2 inches long, less than 1/8 inch wide, toothless, hairless, pointed at the tip, and stalkless, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem and reduced to scales in the upper plant. Stems are green, stiff, hairless and much branched, the branches mostly erect to ascending.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

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


While Skeletonweed is not uncommon, it is easily overlooked when flowers are not opened, the spindly, seemingly leafless stems inconspicuous in surrounding vegetation, though it can take on a somewhat bushy appearance from its numerous branches. It is often seen with round galls along the stems, made by a small wasp. Similar is the rare Annual Skeletonweed (Shinnersoseris rostrata), which has much longer, broader leaves that wither away, and flowers with 6 or more petals that lack the teeth at the tip and do not spread fully open.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Wild Ones Twin Cities Chapter

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Ordway Prairie, Pope County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Garrison, North Dakota.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.