flower flies on yellow Pityopsis flower

Narrowleaf silkgrass

Pictured above: Flower flies (Toxomerus sp.) on Narrowleaf silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia) by Mary Keim. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.

Also known as Silver-leaved aster, Grass-leaved goldenaster, and Silky golden-aster, Narrowleaf silkgrass(Pityopsis graminifolia) is a robust perennial wildflower found in scrub, scrubby flatwoods and pine flatwoods throughout the state. At first glance and when not in bloom, the plant may appear to be a grass. Its flowers bloom in late summer through early winter and attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Flowers are compound with many brilliant yellow ray florets surrounding a compact center of orangish-yellow disk florets. The plant’s mostly basal leaves are long, linear and grasslike. They are covered in fine hairs, giving the leaves a silvery hue. Stem leaves are short by comparison, appressed and alternately arrangedSeeds are born in achenes.

The genus name Pityopsis is from the Greek pitys, or “pine.” It is a reference to the nymph Pitys, who, in Greek mythology, was changed into a pine tree by the gods. The species epithet graminifolia is from the Latin gramen, or “grass,” and folius, or “leaf.”

Pityopsis graminifolia
Silver foliage of Narrowleaf silkgrass. Photo by Mary Keim

Family: Asteraceae (Aster, daisy or composite family)
Native range: Throughout Florida
To see where natural populations of Narrowleaf silkgrass have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: 8A–11
Soil: Dry to moist, well-drained sandy or calcareous soil
Exposure: Full sun to moderate shade
Growth habit: 1’ tall, 2′ tall when blooming
Propagation: Seed
Garden tips: Narrowleaf silkgrass blooms later than many Florida native wildflowers. It is easy to establish and maintain in a garden setting. Its silky foliage can make a dense groundcover in dry to moist soils. The plant spreads by underground rhizomes; a single plant can spread and densely cover a much larger area.

Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area. Seeds may be available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative.

For more information on Pityopsis, see Silver-leaved aster (from 20 Easy-to-Grow Wildflowers).