blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
blue mistflower
wild ageratum
mistflower

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Eupatorium coelestinum L.

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for blue mist-

flower is Conoclinium coelestinum (L.) DC.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States; native or possibly introduced,
Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: Blue mistflower is a perennial plant, 1-2½' tall (occassionally up to

3.5 " tall), branching occasionally to abundantly. The stems are light green,

terete, and appressed-pubescent.

 

Leaves: The opposite leaves are up to 3" long and 2" across; they have
short slender petioles. The leaf blades are oval-cordate, oval, or ovate in
shape, while their margins are dentate or dentate-crenate. The upper blade
surface is light green and glabrous with a conspicuous network of veins.

 

Flowers: The upper stems terminate in flat-topped clusters of flowerheads.

Each cluster of flowerheads spans about 1-3" across. Each flowerhead has

about 40-50 disk florets that are pink, lavender, blue, violet or purple. Each

floret has a tiny tubular corolla with 5 spreading lobes and a strongly exert-

ed style that is divided into two filiform parts. Around the base of each

flowerhead, there are several floral bracts (phyllaries) that are arranged in

1-2 series; they are light green and linear in shape. The branches under-

neath each flowerhead cluster are light green and terete. There is no notice-

able floral scent.

 

Fruit/Seeds: Afterwards, the florets are replaced by achenes with small

tufts of hair; they are distributed by the wind.

 

Roots: The root system is highly rhizomatous; this plant readily forms

colonies.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Blue mistflower propogates itself by
reseeding and by vegatative spread (through rhizomes).

 

HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include river-bottom prairies, moist open
woodlands, damp thickets, gravelly seeps, borders of lakes and rivers,
moist meadows in wooded areas, bases of bluffs, and ditches. This plant
usually occurs in poorly drained areas and near sources of water although
it can also be found in old fields and meadows, and occassionally is dry,
sandy wolldland and clearings.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The preference is full sun to light shade,
moist conditions (drought tolerance is poor), and soil containing loam or
silt. Blue mistflower grows best when there is sufficient organic material
in the soil to retain moisture. This plant can spread aggressively in moist
open ground.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from mid-
summer to early autumn (July through October), lasting about 1-2 months.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Blue mistflower occurs naturally from
Florida to New York and into Ontario, Canada, and extends west through
the Gulf Coast states to Texas and north to Nebraska. It occurs in the Ohio
River Valley region north into Michigan. It does not naturally occur in the
upper mid-West, Plain states, the far southwestern states or the Rocky
Mounain, far western and northernwestern Pacific states or provinces. Blue
mistflower, however, has been used as an ornamental in areas outside its
natural distribution range. It some cases it has escaped and has established
itself locally.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: The flowers attract long-tongued bees,
butterflies, and skippers. Other occasional visitors include short-tongued
bees, various flies, moths, and beetles. These insects seek nectar primarily,
although the bees often collect pollen. Insects that feed on Eupatorium spp.
(Bonesets) may also feed on blue mistflower. Insect feeders of this group
of plants include the caterpillars of such moths as Haploa clymene
(clymene moth; eats foliage), Phragmatobia lineata (lined ruby tiger
moth; eats foliage), Carmenta bassiformis (Eupatorium borer moth; bores
into roots), and Schinia trifascia (three-lined flower moth; eats florets
and developing seeds). Mammalian herbivores rarely consume blue mist-
flower because of its bitter foliage.

 

 

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