ABOUT ELEPAHTOPUS TOMENTOSUS
The common name ... hairy elephant's foot ... of this branching perennial refers to the wide oval leaves clustering at the base in a rosette. Blooming August through November, the small bluish-purple flower heads are surrounded by small, triangular bracts and grow at the top of a long stem, to two feet tall.
Two other species of this interesting plant can be found in our area. Smooth Elephantsfoot (E. nudatus) is very similar to Hairy Elephantsfoot (E. tomentosus), differing in the arrangement of hairs on the midrib under the leaf, and the width of the widest leaf. The leaves of the third species Carolina Elephantsfoot (E. carolinianus,) are mostly on the stem, not at the base. The flowering stems of all 3 plants have small leaf-like bracts at the junction of the stem and flower stalk.
Hairy Elephant’s Foot grows in open, sandy woods on the Coastal Plain from southeast Virginia to Florida and Texas, and north to the interior of Kentucky. Carolina Elephant’s Foot is widespread across Virginia, while Hairy and Smooth Elephant’s Foot are concentrated in the central and eastern counties.
Posted by Kathy Van Mullekom; firstname.lastname@example.org