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Gomphrena Globe Thistle
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Gomphrena Globe Thistle
P Native Photo: Milind Girdhari
Common name: Gomphrena Globe Thistle
Botanical name: Sphaeranthus steetzii    Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Synonyms: Sphaeranthus angustifolius, Sphaeranthus gomphrenoides, Sphaeranthus keniensis

Gomphrena Globe Thistle is an erect or prostrate annual to perennial herb 0.2-1.2 m high, much branched from the base, stems often reddish or purple; branches winged, the wings to 4 mm wide. Leaves are fragrant, narrowly lanceshaped or inverted-lanceshaped, 1-8.5 cm long, 0.2-2 cm wide, base narrowed and decurrent, margins entire to toothed, tip pointed or blunt and with a short sharp point to almost spinulose, sparsely finely velvet-hairy, becoming hairless, glandular-dotted. Glomerules are purple or mauve, nearly spherical to ovoid-conical, 5-10 mm long, 7-12 mm in diameter; flower-cluster-stalk 0.3-4.5 cm long, receptacle nearly round or ovoid; glomerule bracts distally mauve, mostly visible, the proximal 2-3 series forming a shallow cup or covering the base of the glomerule. Flower-heads are stalkless, with 3-4 bracts, the laterals folded, narrowly elliptic, 2.5-4 mm long. Outer florets are 2-6, stalked for up to 0.2 mm, tube thread-like to becoming corky and narrowing from a rather wide base, 1.3-2.5 mm long, style 1.7-2.5 mm long; inner florets 1-2, tube cylindrical, (slightly) constricted near the base, becoming corky, constricted below the lobes, 1-2 mm long, glandular, lobes 0.3-0.7 mm long, anthers 1.3-1.6 mm long, style 1.9-4 mm long, minutely bifid. Gomphrena Globe Thistle was believed to be native to Africa, but has recently (2021) been reported from India too.

Identification credit: Milind Girdhari Photographed in Pune, Maharashtra.

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