Bearsfoot or Yellow Leafcup

Smallanthus uvedalius

Here is a tall native perennial with very large, lobed leaves that some folks say resemble a “bears foot”. Other common names include bears paw, hairy leafcup and large-flowered leafcup.

IMG_6075
Leaf shape and size; note the winged petiole

The leaves of this plant are opposite and form a small “cup” around the stem, hence the common name “leafcup”. The leaves are rough to the touch, lobed, and have winged petioles. They can grow 4 to 10 inches long.

The bright yellow flowers of bearsfoot are relatively small compared to the size of the leaves and the plant overall. The flowers occur in clusters at the ends of stems and bear the reproductive structures that are typical of asters (ray flowers around a central disk).

Each flower occurs on a short stalk and is about 2 inches across; there are 7-13 yellow ray flowers, each about ~1 inch in length. The yellow disk is about 3/4 inches across. Behind the flower head are four bracts that are curved backward covered with sticky hairs. The ray flowers will eventually produce small dark seeds or “nutlets”.

Bearsfoot can grow up to 10 feet in height. It can be found growing in pastures, and along roads and fencerows, July through September. The specimens below were found at the old Brown Farm in Blacksburg (now called Heritage Park).

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