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

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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.

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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?

Posted by: Pam Larson - One Mile Lake Nature Area, Fergus Falls MN
on: 2018-07-23 21:26:39

The Nature Trail is a Conservation Project sponsored by the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club and is located on the east side of Fergus off Highway 210. We saw the Skeleton weeds and flowers on July 23, 2018.

Posted by: BW - Sherburne County
on: 2020-07-25 22:27:27

I have encountered this plant in a specific spot twice now flowering about this time of year. SE Unit. Only a couple of plants.

Posted by: Teresa Jaskiewicz - One Mile Lake Prairie Fergus Falls MN
on: 2021-07-20 13:29:59

Found quite a few blooming very light purple to whiteand in seed. July 19th 2021

Posted by: BW - Sand Dunes State Forest Area
on: 2023-07-02 20:51:02

Lots of plants flowering along the road here in the Sand Dunes State Forest along the road N of Uncas Dunes SNA (SE Unit). Most I've ever seen since looking...

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