Annuals or perennials, to 40 cm (cespitose). Stems erect or decumbent, branched proximally or distally, ± hairy. Leaves linear to oblanceolate or oblong, 8-210 × 1-5.5(-15) mm, (± fleshy in coastal forms) margins entire or with 3-5+ teeth, faces glabrous or ± hairy. Involucres campanulate to depressed-hemispheric or hemispheric, 5-14 mm. Phyllaries (persistent or falling with cypselae) 4-16 (in 1-2 series), elliptic to ovate or lanceolate to oblong, hairy. Receptacles conic, muricate, glabrous. Ray florets 6-16; laminae linear to oblong, 5-18 mm. Anther appendages deltate to sublanceolate. Cypselae black to gray or silver-gray, linear to narrowly clavate, to 4 mm, glabrous or hairy; pappi 0, or of 1-7 translucent (rarely opaque), brown (rarely white), linear to subulate, aristate scales.
Plants of Lasthenia californica, especially those in coastal populations, have the largest, showiest heads in the genus. Report of L. californica from Massachusetts was not confirmed for this study
FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual, simple or freely branched, more or less hairy, erect or decumbent, less than 40 cm tall. Leaves: Opposite, linear to oblanceolate, entire, 0.8-7 cm long, hairy. Flowers: Involucre 5-10 mm, bell-shaped or hemispheric; phyllaries 4-13 free, hairy; receptacle conic, rough, glabrous; ray flowers 6-13; ligules 5-10 mm; generally many disk flowers, yellow; anther tips triangular, style tips triangular. Fruits: Cypselae less than 3 mm, linear to club-shaped, glabrous or hairy, pappus of 1-7 narrow awns, wider awned scales. Ecology: Found on dry mesas, plains, and slopes from 1,500-4,500 ft (457-1372 m); flowers March-May. Notes: Variable species, slight differences in different habitats. Ethnobotany: The parched seeds were ground into flour and used to make mush by the Cohuilla. Etymology: Lasthenia is named for the Athenian girl Lasthenia, a student of Plato, while californica refers to California. Synonyms: Baeria chrysostoma, Lasthenia chrysostoma, Linnaeus hirsutula Editor: SBuckley, 2010