Range: Virginia to Arkansas, and southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Habitat: Rich moist soils; woodlands; tobacco, corn, and cotton fields.
This weed is fond of shade and makes itself a special nuisance in tobacco fields, where the tall plants overshadow it, while its broad, basal, tufted leaves and deep roots absorb much of the soil's fertility and are difficult to remove without injury to the crop, of which the larger, lower leaves are. the most valuable part, and must be guarded as much as possible against any mutilation. (Fig. 290.)
Stem erect, rigid, hairy, one to two feet high, simple or with a few forking branches. Lower leaves four to ten inches long, two to four inches wide, and spread flat on the ground; they are broadly obovate, blunt-pointed, tapering to the base, heavily veined, scallop-toothed, and softly woolly-hairy all over. Simple stems are usually leafless, but where forked there is a small, sessile, lance-shaped leaf. Heads two- to five-flowered, the florets all alike, fertile, tubular, five-lobed but deeply cleft on the inner side, pale purple. Below each head are three heart-shaped, large, leaf-like, and hairy bracts. Achenes oblong, ten-ridged, with a pappus of stiff, slender bristles.
Fig. 290.-Hairy Elephant's Foot (Elephantopus tomentosus). X 1/4.
In crops where thorough and late cultivation may be practiced, this weed is not difficult of suppression; but in tobacco fields, where care must be exercised in order to keep the large lower leaves of the crop uninjured, late tillage is a danger, and hand-pulling is the only practicable way of destroying late-blooming plants before the development of seed.