217. Erechtites Rafinesque, Fl. Ludov. 65. 1817.
Fireweed [A name mentioned by Dioscorides, presumably for a plant now referable to Senecio or a related genus]
Theodore M. Barkley†
Annuals or perennials (often with rank, pungent odor), mostly 20–200 cm (taprooted; glabrous or ± tomentose or villous, often unevenly glabrescent). Stems usually 1, usually erect. Leaves basal and cauline; alternate; petiolate or sessile; blades pinnately nerved, mostly ovate to lanceolate (sometimes pinnately lobed or dissected), ultimate margins entire, denticulate, or toothed, faces glabrous or ± tomentose or villous (often unevenly glabrescent). Heads disciform, in cymiform or corymbiform arrays. Calyculi of 1–6[–12+] bractlets. Involucres urceolate or cylindric to turbinate, 2–10+ mm diam. Phyllaries persistent, usually (5), 8, 13, or 21 in 1–2 series, erect (sometimes reflexed in fruit), distinct (margins ± interlocking), lanceolate to linear, equal, margins ± scarious (tips green or with minute dark spots). Receptacles flat to convex, ± foveolate or smooth, epaleate. Ray florets 0. Peripheral (pistillate) florets 10–100+ (in 1–3+ series), corollas whitish to pale yellow, tubular-filiform, lobes 4–5, deltate, erect. Disc florets (3–)10–20(–50+), mostly bisexual and fertile, inner sometimes functionally staminate; corollas whitish to pale yellow [pinkish], tubes longer than funnelform throats, lobes 4–5, erect to spreading, lance-ovate; style branches stigmatic in 2 lines, apices truncate-penicillate. Cypselae (stramineous to brown or purple) ± prismatic and 5-angled or -ribbed or ± obovoid to ± fusiform and 10–20-nerved, glabrous or puberulent (on or between ribs or nerves); pappi readily falling, of 60–120, white [reddish], barbellulate bristles. x = 20.
Species ca. 12 (3 in the flora): North America, West Indies, South America, Pacific Islands (New Zealand), Australia; some species widely scattered as weeds.
The name Erechtites has been treated traditionally as grammatically feminine; the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Art. 62.4) notes that generic names ending in "-ites" are to be treated as masculine. Specific and infraspecific epithets are here presented in the masculine gender.
Barkley, T. M. and A. Cronquist. 1978. Erechtites. In: N. L. Britton et al., eds. 1905+. North American Flora.... 47+ vols. New York. Ser. 2, part 10, pp. 139–142. Belcher, R. O. 1956. A revision of Erechtites (Compositae) with inquiries into Senecio and Arrhenechthites. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 43: 1–85.