Weeds of Wednesday: Cupid’s Shaving Brush

When we visited the Coastal Oaks Preserve on 2/26/22, we saw lots of tasselflower (Emilia fosbergii). Also called Cupid’s shaving brush, tasselflower has tiny bell-shaped reddish or pinkish flowers that are visited by bees and butterflies. Wind is thought to be the primary pollinator, though.

Most folks consider tasselflower to be a weed, despite its pretty flowers. Disturbance drives the distribution of tasselflower, and we see it growing at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area in disturbed places, especially on the south side of Oslo Road. Growth is the most robust in full sun, but tasselflower will grow in partial shade. In full sun, it can grow to be 2′ tall.

Tasselflower tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions and grows quite swiftly. In full sun, it can complete its life cycle in about 90 days. Take note of the “puff” of seeds at the top of the photo. One plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds that, with their silken parachutes (pappus), can be transported a fairly long distance by the wind.

Tassleflower is considered invasive in Mexico, Central America, West Indies, and on several islands in the Pacific Ocean. The UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plant in Florida urges caution. In my yard, I hand-pull this weed regularly and always (alas) have more.

Be sure of your ID before you pull: The alternate coarsely toothed leaves wrap around (clasp) the stem distinctively.

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