Plant of the day: ranger’s button

Woolly beige tufts rest on umbels of stout stalks. This is ranger’s button (Sphenosciadium capitellatum), a common mountain plant with flowers are clustered into dense and symmetrical heads. Each round and wooly heads is then clustered into an umbel, at the end of a branching stalk. The umbel stalks also are woolly, and the overall effect is highly stylized and geometric.

Ranger’s button likes to grow in the wet soil of meadows, or near lakes and streams. It grows at 3,000 to 10,400 feet in elevation. This plant is in the celery family (Apiaceae) along with poison hemlock and angelica, which it somewhat resembles. It’s toxic to livestock, and an infusion made from the root was used by the Paiute tribe to treat lice… and venereal sores.

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