Coreopsis lanceolata villosa
Aster family (Asteraceae)
Description: This native perennial plant is 1½3' tall and largely unbranched. The central stem is long, round, and slender; it is hairless near the apex, but sometimes has scattered white hairs near the base. The foliage consists primarily of alternate leaves crowded together near the base of the plant. These leaves are up to 10" long and 2" across. They are lanceolate or oblanceolate, and have smooth margins; sometimes there are 1 or 2 small lateral lobes near the base. Sometimes there are scattered white hairs along the leaf surface, particularly along the mid-rib on the lower side. The upper stem is largely devoid of leaves, and terminates in a single compound flower. This compound flower is 2-3½" across and quite showy. It consists of numerous yellow or yellowish brown disk florets, and 6-10 surrounding yellow ray florets. The outer edge of each ray floret has a fringed appearance consisting of 4 acute lobes. Each flower is subtended by several triangular green bracts; the inner bracts are somewhat smaller and often brownish green. The blooming period occurs during early summer and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable scent to the flowers. The dark achenes are rather flat and oblong, and have 2 small barbs near the top. The root system is fibrous. This plant often forms colonies by reseeding itself.
Cultivation: The preference is full sun, and mesic to dry conditions. Poor soil is preferred because of the reduction in competition from other plants; it can contain sandy or rocky material. This plant is easy to grow from transplants. In open sunny situations, it sometimes spreads aggressively.
Range & Habitat: Sand Coreopsis occurs in NE Illinois, in counties along the Illinois River, SW Illinois, and scattered other counties (see Distribution Map). It is an uncommon plant. Habitats include mesic to dry sand prairies, gravel prairies, dry areas of black soil prairies, limestone glades, thinly wooded bluffs, and areas along roadsides and railroads. Some local populations, particularly in NE Illinois, may be plants that have escaped cultivation. Other populations are the result of habitat restoration efforts.
Faunal Associations: The nectar of the flowers attracts many kinds of insect visitors, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, day-flying moths, and beetles. Some of the bees collect pollen, while some of the beetles feed on pollen. The long-tongued bee Melissodes coreopsis (Coreopsis Miner Bee) is a specialist visitor of Coreopsis spp. The caterpillars of the moths Tornos scolopacinarius (Dimorphic Gray) and Eynchlora acida (Wavy-Lined Emerald) feed on the foliage. Mammalian herbivores occasionally consume this and other Coreopsis species, including rabbits, groundhogs, livestock, and possibly deer. The barbs of the achenes can cling to the fur of animals and clothing of humans, and are distributed by them to some extent.
Photographic Location: The photographs were taken in a sand prairie at Kickapoo State Park in Vermillion County, Illinois.
Comments: Another common name for this plant is Lance-leaved Coreopsis, even though the leaves are often broader toward their tips than at the base of the plant. This plant can be distinguished from other Coreopsis species primarily by its leaves; they are undivided, or have 1-2 small lateral lobes near the base. Different populations can vary significantly in the hairiness of the leaves, ranging from glabrous to scattered long white hairs (the plants in the photographs are the latter, var. villosa). Because of the showy flowers and ease of cultivation, Sand Coreopsis is often grown in flower gardens.