Size: 1 ½ to 3 feet (46-91 cm) tall or more 3 feet (100 cm)
Growth Form:Forb/herb; plants upright (erect) or lying on the ground with tips turned up (decumbent), one or many stems; plants often gummy from resinous-glands; stems whitish, yellowish and may be reddish or grayish; generally not smooth without roughness to the touch (glabrous).
Leaves: Green, or gray-green; blade shape variable from linear to oblong to oblanceolate, bases of leaves may be without a supporting stem (petiole) and clasping to the stem; the leaf edges (margins) generally toothed (crenate), often with a yellow ‘bump’ at the tip of the tooth, surfaces gummy from resinousglands; leaves arranged alternately along the stem; leaves 1 to 2½ inches (3–7 cm ) or more.
Flower Color: Yellow; daisy-like flowers; often many individual (solitary) flower heads, flower heads usually with both ray (0 or 12 to 40) and disk (>120) florets; the tips of the bracts (phyllaries) surrounding the flower heads spreading outward as shown in the photo above; fruit is a cypsela.
Flowering Season: July or August through September, October
Elevation: 200 to 8,000 feet (61–2,400 m)
Habitat Preferences: Upper deserts pinyon-juniper, pines, plains, often in disturbed areas, stream-sides, roadsides, hills, overgrazed rangelands; soils often clay, sandy and alkaline.
Recorded Range:Grindelia squarrosa is found over most of North America, absent from the southeast states bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
North America species range map for Curlycup, Grindelia squarrosa:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Click image for full size map
U.S. Weed Information: In North America Grindelia squarrosa can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources:
Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains;
Weeds of the United States and Canada;
Weeds of the West.
Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
Wetland Indicator: In North America Grindelia squarrosa has the following wetland designations:
Arid West, FACU
Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FACU;
Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FACU;
Great Plains, UPL;
Northcentral & Northeast, FACU;
Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU;
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown
Introduced, Invasive, and Noxious Plants Information: Unknown.
Genus Information: In North America there are 28 species and 28 accepted taxa overall for Grindelia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 65 accepted species names and a further 172 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
The genus Grindelia was published in 1807 by Carl Ludwig Willdenow.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 6 species of genus, California has 8 species, Nevada has 4 species, New Mexico has 12 species, Texas has 13 species, Utah has 5 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.
There are 3 varieties in Grindelia squarrosa:
Grindelia squarrosa var. quasiperennis, (absent AZ, NM, TX in the southwest);
Grindelia squarrosa var. serrulata, (absent TX in the southwest);
Grindelia squarrosa var. squarrosa, (absent CA in the southwest).
Comments: Most species of Gumweeds have very distinct looking bright yellow flower heads surrounded by bright green succulent looking bracts curved outward. The flower heads and herbage emit a sticky gummy white colored resin. Taxonomic confusion exists between this species and the superficially similar looking Curlytop Gumweed, Grindelia nuda. Some botanists consider them as one species.
According to the On-Line Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley; Variety Grindelia squarrosa var. serrulata is toxic as it concentrates selenium. This would make it toxic to cattle, humans, and other mammals if ingested.
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa flowers, seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents in search of food, nectar or cover.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
Plant species of the genus Grindelia are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Schinia mortua.
Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa brightly colored flowers and plants are heavily visited by butterflies, moths and other insects in search of food, nectar or cover.
Special Value to Native Bees
According to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of Native bees. Click here for more information on their Pollinator Conservation Program.
The genus “Grindelia” (Grinde'lia:) is named for David Hieronymus Grindel (1776-1836), born Dāvids Hieronīms Grindelis, a Latvian pharmacologist, physician, chemist, botanist. He studied botany and medicine at the University of Jena from 1795 to 1797 and then returned to Riga.
The genus Grindelia was published in 1807 by Carl Ludwig Willdenow.
The species epithet “squarrosa” (squarro'sa/
:) means either “scaly or rough” or “with the leaves spreading at right angles”.
Grindelia squarrosa is used for a multitude of purposes by North American United States indigenous peoples.
Blackfoot Drug, Liver Aid; Decoction of root taken for liver trouble.
Cheyenne Drug, Dermatological Aid and Eye Medicine; Decoction of flowering tops applied to skin diseases, scabs and sores and Gum rubbed on the outside of eyes for snowblindness.
Cheyenne, Northern Drug, Disinfectant; Decoction of flowering tops used to wash sores and other skin lesions.
Cree Drug, Abortifacient and Gynecological Aid; Used to prevent childbearing and Infusion of buds and flowers taken to ease and lessen menses.
Cree Drug, Kidney Aid and Venereal Aid; Plant and camomile used for kidney pains and Used for gonorrhea.
Crow Drug, Cold Remedy and Cough Medicine; Taken for colds and Taken for coughs.
Crow Drug, Pulmonary Aid and Respiratory Aids; Taken for whooping cough and pneumonia and Infusion sniffed up the nose for catarrh and Taken for bronchitis and asthma.
Dakota Drug, Gastrointestinal Aids; Decoction of plant given to children for colic and Infusion of plant tops given to children for stomachaches.
Dakota Drug, Pediatric Aids; Decoction of plant given to children for colic and Infusion of plant tops given to children for stomachaches.
Flathead Drug, Cold Remedy and Cough Medicine; Taken for colds and Taken for coughs.
Flathead Drug, Pulmonary and Respiratory Aids; Taken for whooping cough and pneumonia and Taken for bronchitis and asthma.
Flathead Drug, Tuberculosis Remedy and Veterinary Aid; Infusion taken for tuberculosis and Flower heads rubbed on horses' hooves for protection against injury.
Gosiute Drug, Cough Medicine; Roots used as a cough medicine.
Lakota Drug, Antihemorrhagic; Decoction of blossoms and fetid marigold taken for the spitting of blood.
Mahuna Drug, Dermatological Aid and Disinfectant; Poultice of plants applied to cuts and Infusion used as a disinfectant wash.
Montana Indian Drug, Venereal Aid; Decoction used as an antisyphilitic.
Paiute Drug, Cough Medicine and Expectorant; Decoction of plant said to be a good cough medicine and said to be a good expectorant.
Paiute Drug, Pulmonary Aid and Urinary Aid; Hot decoction of young shoots taken for pneumonia and Infusion of plant taken for bladder trouble.
Pawnee Drug, Veterinary Aid; Decoction of tops and leaves used as a wash for saddle galls and sores on horses.
Ponca Drug, Tuberculosis Remedy; Decoction of plant taken for consumption.
Shoshoni Drug, Analgesic and Cough Medicine; Decoction of plant taken for stomachaches and said to be a good cough medicine and Dried buds used for coughs.
Shoshoni Drug, Dermatological Aid and Disinfectant; Poultice of boiled plant applied to swellings and Decoction of plant used as an antiseptic wash to help heal broken bones.
Shoshoni Drug, Emetic, Expectorant and Gastrointestinal Aid; Infusion of plant taken as an emetic and Decoction of plant said to be a good expectorant and Decoction of plant taken for stomachaches.
Shoshoni Drug, Misc. Disease Remedy and Orthopedic Aid ; Decoction of plant taken for smallpox and measles and Poultice of boiled plant applied to broken legs.
Shoshoni Drug, Urinary and Venereal Aid; Infusion of plant taken for bladder trouble and Decoction of plant taken for venereal disease.
Sioux Drug, Gastrointestinal Aid; Infusion taken for colic.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.