Plants 10-60(-120) cm. Stems (erect to decumbent) usually branched. Leaves evenly distributed along stems; petiolate; blades oblanceolate or obovate to spatulate, often lyrate, sometimes ± pinnatifid (terminal lobes usually shorter than pinnatifid portions, crenate to irregularly incised), membranous to slightly chartaceous, ultimate margins crenate or entire, faces ± velvety. Heads in corymbiform arrays. Peduncles hairy (some hairs reddish, bulbous-based, wartlike, surpassing white, appressed hairs). Involucres 13-17 mm diam. Ray corollas deep yellow to orange-yellow, abaxial veins (sometimes whole surfaces) red to maroon, laminae 10-14 × 5.5-8 mm. Disc corollas red to maroon (rarely yellow). Cypselae 4.5-6 × 2.7-3.7 mm. 2n = 30.
Flowering nearly year round. Dry, sandy loams, rocky, limestone soils, roadsides, grasslands with mesquite, oak, and juniper; 700-2200 m; Ariz., Colo., Kans., N.Mex., Okla., Tex.; Mexico.
Berlandiera lyrata is cultivated in Arizona. Exceptional specimens that are scapiform (sometimes monocephalic) with mostly undivided leaves and with wartlike hairs on peduncles occur at higher elevations (south-central New Mexico, trans-Pecos Texas, and Nuevo León). They have yellow disc corollas, as do most collections from Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas.
FNA 2006, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial herbs, 10-60 cm tall; stems erect to decumbent, usually branched, striate. Leaves: Alternate, on petioles often equaling the length of the blades, evenly distributed along stems; blades more or less pinnatifid, often lyrate, to 14 cm long, membranous to slightly papery, the surfaces velvety, ultimate margins crentate or entire. Flowers: Flower heads large, showy, radiate, arranged in flat-topped panicles on hairy peduncles, some of the hairs reddish, bulbous-based, wartlike; involucre (the ring of bracts surrounding the flower head) 13-17 mm in diameter, the bracts (phyllaries) obovate to ovate, in 3 series, the outer phyllaries smaller than inner ones; ray florets fertile, usually 8 per flower head, the laminae (ray petals) 10-14 mm long, deep yellow to orange-yellow with dark, red to maroon veins on the undersides; disc florets sterile, yellow or red to maroon, tipped with 5 triangular lobes. Fruits: Achenes 5-7 mm long, strongly flattened, with finely stiff hairs; when dispersing each achene remains fused to its adjacent phyllary and 2 paleae from the receptacle. Ecology: Found on plains and mesas, in dry sandy loams to rocky limestone soils, and in disturbed soils, from 4,000-7,000 ft (1219-2134 m); flowers May-October. Distribution: se AZ, east through NM, s CO, w TX and sw OK; south to c MEX. Notes: This perennial herb is distinguished by its decumbent to erect growth form; the pinnately lobed leaves often with one larger terminal lobe and smaller lateral lobes near the leaf base (lyrate); large showy flower heads with yellow rays marked with dark veins and red to maroon disc flowers, these emitting a distinct chocolate fragrance, especially early in the morning or at night--hence the other common name chocolate flower. Once the petals fall, the wide, rounded, overlapping bracts (phyllaries) open and spread out. Kearny and Peebles label material from southeast AZ as var. macrophylla, with leaf margins that are crenate (with shallow rounded teeth), as opposed to lyrate. Ethnobotany: Used as a psychological aid for nervousness and for courage, and as a seasoning in food. Etymology: Berlandiera is named for Jean Louis Berlandier (1805-1851) a Belgian explorer in North America, while lyrata comes from lyrate, the leaf shape, with a very large terminal lobe and much smaller basal, lateral lobes. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2014, AHazelton 2015, AHazelton 2017