Blooming now in mid-July: Cup Plant! The name of this sunflower-like aster comes from the manner in which the upper leaves adhere to the stem. The opposite, toothed leaves are fused at their bases, forming a complete cup around the stem. The leaves are rough and ovate to triangular. The central stem of this plant is square and mostly smooth.
But the real story here is the bright and cheerful flowers that can be up to 3-4 inches wide. Look closely and you will see that the light yellow ray flowers are fertile and the amber-colored disk flowers stick up prominently above the center, creating quite a show. Pollinators swarm to these blossoms and birds flock to eat the seeds and drink the water that sometimes stands in the leaf “cups”.
I found these specimens growing along the banks of the Little River, near Floyd, which is typical habitat for Cup flower. They are hard to miss because they are so darn tall: 4 to 8 feet high! Bloom time is July through September.