Hairy Leafcup

This week for Flora and Fauna Friday we have a large and leafy pollinator plant, Hairy Leafcup (Smallanthus uvedalia).

Hairy Leafcup, also called Bear’s-Foot, is a large perennial wildflower in the sunflower family, Asteraceae. It’s found throughout the Southeast, nearly all of the state of South Carolina, and is common along roadsides on Edisto Island. Hairy Leafcup prefers moist soils on shady forest edges. Ditch banks and the shoulders or dirt roads are a particularly preferred habitat, but it is hardy and will readily live in many environments. Hairy Leafcup grows into a multi-stemmed bush, generally reaching about head high but can add a couple extra feet to that in ideal conditions. It spreads laterally to form thickets. It has large, opposite, papery leaves that can reach a foot in width. Hairy Leafcup is best spotted by its flowers, which can emerge as early as May and can continue through September but peak in late June. Hairy Leafcup’s flowers are an inch and a half wide with lemon-yellow petals and a more golden center. Flowers emerge at the tips of the stem in loose clusters. These flowers are well-loved by all pollinators and produce both pollen and nectar in abundance. Its hollow stems also provide great nesting habitat for cavity nesting bees and wasps the following year. Hairy Leafcup can be a good pollinator planting but usually needs its own space by itself. These plants also create great wildlife habitat, as their height and broad leaves provide cover for all manner of critters to hide and its seeds are eaten by many species of songbird.

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