Range: Minnesota to British Columbia, southward to Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Habitat: Plains and prairies; meadows and pastures.
This plant is cultivated in eastern flower gardens for its beauty, and frequently escapes to roadsides and fields where it rivals Black-eyed Susan for showiness. Stems one to three feet tall, sometimes branched but usually simple, very slender, clothed with jointed hairs. Leaves rather thick, also finely hairy, the basal ones with petioles; they are exceedingly variable, some being lance-shaped, others spatulate; some deeply cut, even pinnatifid, others entire; some plants have leaves all basal, while others have a few stem leaves which are sessile. Heads large, two to four inches across, the rounded disk of a purplish brown, the tubular florets with fringed lobes and protruding forked styles, also reddish brown, very long and fine; rays yellow, long, wedge-shaped, toothed at the tips; bracts of the involucre lance-shaped, pointed, hairy on both sides, reflexed. Achenes small, brown, top-shaped nutlets, hairy at the base and crowned with a half-dozen or more bristly awns. (Fig. 336.)
Fig. 336. - Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata). X 1/4.
No composite flower, however beautiful, should be permitted to give its seeds to the wind's will. In gardens the blossoms should be clipped as they fade, and where the plants "blanket" the fields they should feel the scythe or the mowing-machine blades at sight of the first gay flower. For destruction of the perennial roots the ground requires to be put under cultivation.