Two-Flowered Cynthia (Orange Dwarf Dandelion)

Photo of two-flowered Cynthiana flower
Scientific Name
Krigia biflora
Asteraceae (daisies, sunflowers)

Two-flowered Cynthia somewhat resembles a common dandelion. It's a perennial with one or few stalks, with few to several branches above the midpoint. Flowerheads orange-yellow, dandelion-like, but somewhat smaller, to 1½ inch across, terminal on stems normally having one clasping leaf midway on the stalk. The botanical name biflora (“two-flowered”) is misleading, as the plant may have any number of flowerheads. Blooms May–August. Basal leaves spoonlike, on a long peduncle; they can be entire, wavy, toothed, or rarely pinnately lobed. Stem leaves one to few, much reduced, clasping.

Similar species: Five Krigia species are recorded for Missouri. Potato dandelion (K. dandelion), like a “true” dandelion, bears only one flowerhead per stem, but the stems are not hollow. Its roots are small, potato-like tubers about ½ inch long. Virginia dwarf dandelion (K. virginica), resembles a miniature dandelion, rarely more than 3 inches tall. It forms large colonies, often lining cracks in rocks.

Other Common Names
False Dandelion

Height: to 2 feet.

Where To Find
image of Two-Flowered Cynthia Orange Dwarf Dandelion False Dandelion distribution map

Generally south of the Missouri River and in the eastern half of the state; uncommon in the Mississippi Lowlands.

Grows in upland forests, upland prairies, margins of ponds and sinkhole ponds, and banks of streams; also pastures and roadsides. There are several members of the aster family that look something like common dandelions. But unlike the familiar lawn weed, two-flowered Cynthia is a native Missouri wildflower, whose presence should be celebrated.

The aster family, to which this species belongs, is an enormous group containing some 23,000–32,000 species worldwide. Some 330 species are known from Missouri. Studying plants, and applying that knowledge in land management, agriculture, horticulture, and more employs countless people.

Like many other asters, this species attracts a host of bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, and beetles. Like other herbaceous perennials, its roots help stabilize soils and prevent erosion.

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Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!