Asteraceae (Composite Sunflower) Family
Other names: Garden Cosmos, Mexican Aster.
Plant is an upright, tall, stout annual. Preferred habitat is yards, the margin of fields, thin woods and meadows. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are bipinnately divided; almost filliform; opposite on the stem; numerous at base of plant,;scattered upward.
Flowers are multi-colored; pink, burgundy and white. Disc flowers are yellow and bisexual. Ray flowers are female and numerous. Flowers occur in the summer.
Fruit is a seed whose outer layer is fused to it.
The related cosmos, C. parviflorus, is usually associated with the western states. That strain is an annual that blooms in autumn. Many transportation departments in the southeastern states is beginning to experiment with these plants along state and federal highway systems. The seeds are dispersed mainly by wind and rain but deer grazing at roadside is helping a great deal to spread the seed through droppings. The leaf and stem are bitter to the taste but in early spring when greenery is still at a premium wildlife is known to graze. C. sulphureus (below) is widely used by the Department of Transportation in roadside wildflower plots.