Natural History

INYO ROCK DAISY } Laphamia inyoensis
FAMILY: Asteraceae

DESCRIPTION: A member of the sunflower family, the Inyo rock daisy is a perennial subshrub, meaning the upper portions of its branches die back every winter. The leaves have serrated margins and are covered in fragrant, glandular hairs that exude a powerful scent in the heat of the summer. Numerous bright yellow disc flowers are clustered together into a bell-shaped head that resembles a single flower. Unlike other members of the sunflower family, Inyo rock daisy fruits lack the characteristic pappus (think dandelion fluff) that might otherwise facilitate long-distance dispersal.

HABITAT: The Inyo rock daisy lives in an arid, montane environment at relatively high elevations between 6,300 and 9,000 feet. Plants generally grow from rock outcrops and cliff faces comprised of calcareous substrates.

RANGE: Populations are limited to the southernmost extent of the Inyo Mountains in Inyo County, California.

LIFE CYCLE: Flowers bloom between June and September when many other desert mountain plants have gone dormant. Pollinators are critical for successful reproduction, since the Inyo rock daisy requires pollen from relatively distant individuals.

THREATS: Inyo rock daisy is threatened by mineral exploration and mining development. Other threats include non-native species invasions, climate change, and the harmful genetic effects of small population size.

POPULATION TREND: Only 26 occurrences persist in California, occupying a total area of less than one square mile. The global population is estimated in the low thousands, and four populations consist of fewer than 100 individuals.


Photo of Inyo rock daisy by Cheryl Berker.